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Album Reviews : Shadow of Intent – Melancholy

By on August 24, 2019

Wow, what a bolt out of the blue. When a friend whose opinion I very much respect recommended this album to me, I immediately expected something very special. Exactly how special, I was completely unprepared for.

As a massive fan of bands that juxtapose heaviness with symphony, I was hooked on Melancholy from the very first listen. Even then, as I listened multiple times, even more of this record’s more subtle charms and moments began to manifest themselves. This is a band that truly knows what it’s doing, a band in absolute command of its art and its direction. The overriding vibe of the record is that of bludgeoning, in your face brutality. However, this band has a wondrous grasp of the concept of dynamics, push-pull, ebb and flow, light and shade and all the rest of it, so that it’s far from a monotonous sledgehammer pummelling the listener end to end.

Then when you throw in the orchestral and choral elements, intricately and expertly interwoven into the mix, it becomes a form of highly enjoyable, substance-filled ear candy, as much of a contraction as that seems to be. Have a few listens and you’ll understand what I’m bangin’ on about. Just make sure you listen with open ears and an open mind.

The levels of musicianship apparent on this record are stunning, each member a master of their craft. The vocals are highly diverse and versatile, switching up from death metal howls, black metal screeches, throat-rending screams and occasional more melodic stuff with aplomb. The production is absolutely dead on the money, sharper than a brand new axe, blisteringly powerful and allowing of all the myriad elements to breath and to shine. Difficult to achieve on a record such as this.

Of course, all the great production, musicianship and symphonic wizardry in the world amount to nothing if the songs themselves aren’t strong, and Shadow of Intent have managed to craft 10 highly compelling death metal tracks, the pièce de résistance actually being the monumental The Dreaded Mystic Abyss. Upon first listen to this epic instrumental piece, it appears they are merely tacking seemingly disparate riffs and ideas onto the end of the last one for ten and a half minutes, but further exploration of the track reveals thematic and narrative cohesion that you simply don’t grasp upon a listen or two, so give this track time to grow on you. You’ll be glad you did, they held nothing back, they truly let it all hang out in a creative sense on this track. Sit back and let its delights flow all over you.

A true surprise packet, Melancholy is one of the albums of the year.

Band: Shadow of Intent
Album:  Melancholy
Year: 2019
Genre: Symphonic Death Metal
Label: Independent
Origin: USA

About

Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine, themusic.com.au, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.