Album Review: Shadowsphere – Inferno
Release date: June 1, 2012
Label: Sphere Music Media
Lyrical content: Dreams, Visions
Genre: Metalcore/Melodic Death Metal
Portugal is a country that seems to be underrepresented on the map of metal, where even countries like the United Arab Emirates are gaining territory. Shadowsphere are actually the first band I hear that comes from the land of… er… yeah, what is this country actually famous for? Anyways, they’re from Portugal.
The combination of Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal has been a tried and true formula and has failed to really catch my ear. Now that Inferno lies on my plate, I feel that this style can be quite appealing, as what Shadowsphere deliver, seems to be a solid bite. True, the album name is not too original, but I like the low-key album cover and the first few minutes sound very promising. The album’s starter Within the Serpent’s Grasp (leaving the intro for what it is), is a very good song; it has good, intense riffing and it’s quite catchy.
A thing that immediately comes out are the vocals. Singer Paulo Gonçalves sounds very much like Kreator’s Mille Petrozza, and in this case this isn’t a shame: he copies Petrozza well. On the other hand, his growls seem to come along as enforced, slightly blemishing his rasps.
No one is really going to buy a record because the singer sounds like Mille Petrozza though, and I think that the guitars are the main treat on Inferno. The rhythm guitars are spot on and have a solid tone. The lead melodies are memorable and the solos are very considerately played. However, it has to be noted that minute imperfection again is present as the leads are very low in the mix which I think adds to the following, that it’s hard to spin the whole album without loosing interest about half-way through the album. True, Shadowsphere’s sound is solid, yet it’s little more than that. Highlights include The Hurt Locker, which is a beautiful instrumental (though hindered by keyboard choirs) and the more lengthy Alone At the End of the World. In between these and the opening track, everything is nothing more than average. Of course, disregarding some noticeable moments during songs like Gehenna and the last song, Suicide Reign of Salvation.
Something which clearly bothers me on this record are the female clean vocals. Though rare, they come along as artificial and lacking emotion, especially during Sworn Enemy, where they ruin the song. Suicide Reign of Salvation however, makes me forget Sworn Enemy, as the clean vocals are a lot better executed. The feeble voice, the slight tremble and the vocal harmony near the end make me happy. This song is definitely the best on this effort, together with the oft mentioned opener.
I end up having mixed feelings about Inferno: I’ve come to love certain songs on the album, while despising one, and not caring for the others. However, I don’t want to put this away, saying that it is a promising record, since this is Shadowsphere’s fourth effort to date, and I can clearly tell they’ve worked very hard on this. “Promising” is a word which has a degenerating undertone, and that is the very last thing that I would do to this album. My grading might appear to be harsh, but Inferno is definitely worth your time and money, given it is properly appreciated through taste and preference.
My Grade: 7/10
Buy this when:
- you like a solid combination of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore
- you don’t mind the clean vocals on Sworn Enemy
- you’re able to keep your attention with the album throughout the whole three-quarters of an hour