|3.7 (1 votes):|
Certainly much better than the debut!
Only a few weeks ago, the Tasmanian-turned-German devil Patrick Schmidt reached out to me – he had just put out a successor to last year’s self-titled debut album with his project Van Diemen. While the first record had certainly been an interesting modern (melo-death) metal ride with a weird charm to it, I had to address several minor complaints, like the lack of variation in vocal delivery, riffs, and tempo, along with other compositional drawbacks. Add somewhat dry production values to the heap and that’s what ultimately kept the project from taking off fully.
After running a few circles with this new opus of his, it is pretty easy to say that he has improved on all possible fronts. Right from the get-go, as the slicy, fat guitar tone and well-rounded, battering bass drums massage the skull inappropriate measures, it’s clear that this time production duties have been handled by a professional. The vocalist Marcel Mädel (who had already lent his voice to the debut) benefits from this as well, as his rather one-dimensional vocal delivery feels, while also objectively improved – more alive and commanding than on said earlier performance.
I feel that the material is still a little too comfortably set in mid-paced structures (man, please blast away in frenzied speed a bit more frequently – it works!) but the tracks themselves appear well-fleshed out and bounce off their initial riffs into different moods frequently, unlike those on the debut, which stepped over the boredom-line a bit too often due to their repetitive nature. Guitar solos and harmonies are scarce but utilized well enough to further diversify the compositions.
Sarcophilus Laniarius might still not offer a sufficient pool of moments shimmering with melodic brilliance and intense hooks that the genre’s stalwarts in their heyday had to offer over two decades ago, but Van Diemen is already carving its own niche within this somewhat rusty, fading breed, also due to Schmidt’s sneaky branching out into more progressive territories – a decision which could most certainly be labeled a reasonable artistic choice.
If you are still experiencing a twitchy kind of withdrawal when it comes to good melodic death metal in this day and age, there is no reason not to spend some time with Van Diemen‘s sophomore effort, as it’s much closer to a cure in that regard than many of its contemporary peers.
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