Steamhammer/SPV [Release date: 13.04.18]
‘Oblivion’ is the 14th studio release from German gothic-metallists, Crematory.
A number of key line-up changes over the last couple of years don’t seem to have freshened up the sound much and the album more or less fits the template of earlier outings. The album is a sub-Rammstein mish-mash of varying quality and impact.
New guitarists Tosse Basler and Rolf Munkes joined the band in 2015 prior to the recording of their last studio album, ‘Monument’ and bassist Jason Mathias came on board just after the LP’s release in 2016.
Basler has also been used to create some diversity around the band’s vocals where he provides clean, melodic lines to counterpoint the death growl uttered by long-time vocalist Felix Stass. The move is presumably to change the mood and dynamics of the tracks and is a primary feature of the whole album. However, the effect is a little overused and formulaic.
Take the balladic ‘Stay With Me’ which turns into a grinding plod and the opener ‘Salvation’, preceeded by a slightly kitsch spoken introduction.
The temptation for too many gothic rockers is to chuck the kitchen sink at every track, which can lead to the sonic equivalent of indigestion. At worst that’s what happens here on bilious moments like ’For All of Us’, packed with crunching riffs, archetypal soaring keyboards underpinned by furious drumming; and the sprawling, faintly silly ‘Revenge is Mine’.
At best, there are some enjoyable tunes here. ‘Cemetery Stillness’ is a solid heavy outing and ‘Ghost of the Past’ has a gorgeous, bold chug undercut with tinkling piano that brings to mind Paradise Lost’s ‘Enchantment’.
Orchestral arrangements are to the fore as you’d expect – courtesy of Stefan Glass – but often stray just the wrong side of overblown. ‘Blessed’ gets away with it and ‘Until The Dawn’ is only saved by a cracking guitar solo.
Overall this is an underwhelming effort that is probably a passable outing for hard core fans, but won’t do much to win new support. ***
Review by Dave Atkinson
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