Review: Re-Armed “Ignis Aeternum” [Black Lion Records]

Review: Re-Armed “Ignis Aeternum” [Black Lion Records]

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The Finnish MDM band Re-Armed this June has released the fourth album on the small Swedish label Black Lion with the passionate title “Ignis Aeternum”, which perfectly describes its music, because it translates from Latin as “eternal fire”. This album is dedicated to life itself, it is about constant changes, which every band’s member accepts with positivity. Even the artwork reflects the band’s attitude regarding the changes, it shows the symbolic meaning, that the strong spirit never gives up. And the music itself is consistent with positive perception of life, it is purposeful, intense and fervent.

Re-Armed was formed almost 20 years ago in Finland, and during all these years the band released 4 full-length albums, one EP, one single and 6 demos. Thanks to first demos, the band caught attention of the label Massacre Records, so Re-Armed gained the contract with them to release the debut album “Worldwide Hypnotize” in 2012, to present themselves on the melodic death metal scene. After that important historical moment, the band was estimated not only for the high-quality material and skilful song-writing, but for the energetic ardour and drive. So, the music of this Finnish band sounds fantastic not only on the records, but on the stage as well.

This album is a lot more melodic and symphonic than the previous ones, and with more clean voice than ever. But that doesn’t dispute the level of heaviness or devotion to melodic death/thrash metal, favoured by them from the beginning of their career path, so the old fans definitely won’t be disappointed. Earlier the musicians were focused more on Gothenburg style (started by At the Gates in the 90s), but now they have a mass of fresh ideas to produce them efficiently, but at the same time not to drift away from the roots of melodic death. So, the experiments with increased melodiousness and symphonic elements only diversified their music.

“Ignis Aeternum” is structurally based on traditional thrash metal, but due to the significant use of the keyboards, classical death/thrash metal foundation is slightly lightened and modernized (the most thrashy compositions are “Dive within” and “Remains Unbounded”). Guitar riffs don’t play a crucial role on this record, because the synths are mostly in the foreground, but still the guitar work on the songs “Resistance” and “Built to Last” is performed excellently. The melodic riff of “Resistance” pierces the core of the song (with some influence from oriental music), but on “Built to Last” the influence of classical music is evident (but not so evident as in the music of Children of Bodom). The slower pieces sound more reflective (like “Words Left Unsaid”), but the fastest (like “Voyager”) more fit to power metal, they lack the heaviness. The guitar solos are not too complicated or primitive, they easily match in the melodic death metal conception. The strong influence of bass-guitar, along with the distorted guitar sound can be heard on the song “Ode to Life”, and that would be the heaviest song on the record, if it wasn’t for the symphonic atmosphere of keyboards.

The double vocals are very common on “Ignis Aeternum” (the guitarist Oskari Niekka and bassist Juhana Heinonen are also the back-vocalists), the effect makes the vocal lines richer, and that’s a good point, because the singer Jouni Matilainen has mid-level singing skills. He uses an extreme manner of singing, but most of the time he raucously half-screams/half-sings with sincere emotionality.

The most important part on this record belongs to the session keyboardist Sami Tiittanen, his talent makes the music more melodic, atmospheric and symphonic. Sometimes the synths create romantic aura (like on “Resistance”), sometimes they imitate the sound of violin (on songs “Beyond the Horizon” and “The Hollow Lights”), and sometimes it’s the classical piano sound (on “Dive Within” and “Eager To Collapse”), and there are also some avant-garde elements (“Eager To Collapse”). So, despite that the core of the music of Re-Armed is metal oriented, the keyboards diversify the record, making it extremely melodic.

The MDM scene is obviously the strongest in Scandinavia, the northern people have incredible sense of melodiousness in the extreme genres, so no wonder the Northern European melodic death metal bands are so popular worldwide. And Re-Armed decently supports this genre, with its original and innovative point of view.

Release date: June 5th, 2020

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