Act Seven

Crematory

Nuclear Blast Records, 1999

http://www.crematory.de

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/17/1999

I believe we have uncovered one of the signs that the end of the world is near - I've listened to a death metal band with melody, and with vocals you can understand!

I'm talking about Germany's Crematory, whose most recent album Act Seven crossed my desk recently, and simply shocked me with its content. While this genre is still not for everyone, this could well be the most accessible album in this genre for newcomers.

The band - vocalist Felix, guitarist Matthias Kechler, keyboardist Katrin, bassist Harald and drummer Markus Jullich - are noteworthy because they blend German lyrics in with their English (which is quite good, by the way). Maybe this is the only leap back to the stereotypical death metal, but I only noticed once or twice the band singing in German, and I'm sure they did it more often than I heard.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But once you get past the opening montage "Shining," you might expect your speakers to explode in a hail of double bass and power chords. That doesn't happen; instead, on "I Never Die," you get a song that is conservatively written, sacrificing neither power nor melodic arrangement. To say my jaw hit the floor would be an understatement - and once Felix's vocals went from the traditional growl to actual singing, my tongue soon followed my jaw. Let's just say this was a pleasant surprise.

The pleasure of Act Seven continues for a good portion of the album. Tracks like "Fly," "Moonlight" and "The Game" all demonstrate that this band has what it takes to be a breakout success once metal officially becomes a commercially viable force again. (Not that the band has been unsuccessful with their previous six albums; I've not heard them... yet.)

There still is enough gloom and doom on Act Seven to remind you that you're not listening to a Sesame Street album. Tracks like "The Holy One", like many good death metal songs, call into question popular religious beliefs - and this might be a little too much for some listeners. (Note that I'm not saying that Crematory shouldn't sing about it; just that if you're easily offended, jump to the next track.)

The only negative - if you can call it that - with Act Seven is that near the end of the album, things start getting a little tired. Tracks like "Awake" and "Tale" would probably have been killer if they had been anywhere else on the album. It just seems like it's difficult for Crematory - and the listener, for that matter - to maintain such a level of energy and excitement for so long.

Act Seven is a very entertaining album, and is approachable enough where I'd suggest this is the album one starts with if they wanted to discover what death metal was about. There's always time for the real heavy stuff later.

Rating: B+

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nuclear Blast Records, and is used for informational purposes only.