These boys have the kind of look about them that at the very least makes you want to hear their music.
Not something you get so much of these days to be honest.
Yes, the jauntily cocked hoods and bandanas round faces could come off as a little silly, but at least they’re a talking point.
It’s melodic death metal, but so much tougher sounding than that name has come to imply: with a gritty, perhaps overly maxxed-out production, detailed riffs and a pretty consistent hammering from the drums, it’s more Vomitory than Dark Tranquillity.
Yet there are shades of both.
It’s hard. Heavy. But considered and melodic while it’s at it.
This stuff has been worked hard at. They aren’t so much attempting technical death metal as thoroughly sporting it, even at this early stage of their career. It’s the real thing, with nods toward Death, Sceptic, Sadus, Dismember, Sinister and so many more.
I said earlier that the production sounded maxxed-out. What I mean is that the guitars are saturated in a Skogsberg sound kind of way, while the snare occupies massive space right at the front of the mix. It pushes everything around it out of the airspace a bit, leaving a huge footprint on the rest of the mix, especially during the blastbeats.
That’s the opposite to how things usually are, with snares regularly lost at the high speeds; but perhaps just a nudge backward would have been useful to allow the great detail of the riffs a bit more headroom.
‘The Divine Lie’ is a riff straight from Sweden, complete with chunky, dirty bass breakdown (another factor in that maxxed sound – it ain’t clean) that resolves into a great ride cymbal headbanger.
Everything’s to be commended. The vocals are deep and boomy, Benton in style, while those rhythm guitars pitch through octaved, harmonied, closed and open riffs in an array of approaches that’s well managed and balanced.
They can do speed, and they can do slow, impressively on both counts.
One thing that niggles for guys of such clear talent however is the lead guitar. I cant really fathom some of the choices here – the leads sound absolutely divorced from the rest of what the band’s playing on almost all occasions, with the sweep picking seemingly unrelated to the main harmony at any given point.
It’s mystifying given the conspicuous tightness and efficiency of the the two players’ rhythm work. Anyway, they dont outstay their welcome, and you’re always back into the track proper in good order.
These songs have been written with live demolition in mind, clearly, and the mid pace of ‘Demon Of Winter’ is an exemplary lesson in how to deliver crunch at the slower end of the tempo. Nice little touches such as the rush of air halfway through the track are the details that make the difference.
So well done Shrouded. This is an accomplished, technical and brute heavy suite of songs that roars confidence and ability. Tracks like ‘Ocean Floor Burial’ bring me right back to ‘The Minds I’.
The songs are memorable and the weight is unarguable. So if they can just fix those eccentric solos a bit, I cant wait to hear more.
It’s no surprise they’ve scored a Bloodstock space. They should flatten the place.
4.1 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 08/08/17