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Chain Collector - "The Masquerade" (CD)

Chain Collector - "The Masquerade" CD cover image

"The Masquerade" track listing:

1. Hierarchy of Murder (Code of Silence) (4:14)
2. Harvester (4:41)
3. Neverwhere (5:04)
4. And Then There Was None (4:24)
5. Crucifixion (6:48)
6. Project Savior (4:15)
7. Tapping The Vein (4:51)
8. Fallen Angel (4:02)
9. Wicked Mask (4:08)
10. Winter Princess (4:59)

Reviewed by on February 17, 2009

"While there aren’t too many high concept ideas found in the album’s ten tracks there are more than enough head banging guitar riffs to keep melodic death metal fans solidly hooked the whole way through."

A little metropolis in Sweden called Gothenburg has had a big impact on the metal world. Besides being the last place that Cliff Burton of Metallica ever played live, it also spawned the sub-genre of melodic death metal, which is still running strong today. Although hailing from the extreme metal breeding ground of Norway, Chain Collector still exudes the Gothenburg sound in their debut studio album “The Masquerade.” While there aren’t too many high concept ideas found in the album’s ten tracks there are more than enough head banging guitar riffs to keep melodic death metal fans solidly hooked the whole way through.

There are a lot of traditional metal techniques employed in “The Masquerade,” from the serial killer lyrical theme to the verse/chorus/verse structure that makes the songs catchier than the average death metal act. The opening song “Hierarchy of Murder” even starts off with a feedback laden sound effect that gets gradually louder before letting loose the thick guitar notes and hardcore drum beats. There are also almost no black metal influences to be heard in any of the tracks, which is quite surprising considering the band sports former members of Carpathian Forest and Apostasy.

A good deal of clean vocals, delivered by Kjetil Nordhus of Green Carnation and Lake of Tears, are also used to accompany the fierce death growls and provide more balance. The clean singing is delivered with enough anger and power to keep it pleasing to metal heads, but never gets low or loud enough to approaching screaming. The vocals add a good melody and complement the guitar sound well, especially when they are layered overtop the growls for a beauty and the beast effect. Unfortunately there are a few songs like “Neverwhere” when the clean vocals get dropped down in the mix and drowned out by the other instruments. “Crucifixion” also marks a clean vocal misstep where the singer drops some of the fury and tries to go for more of a ballad feel, which doesn’t match his vocal abilities nearly as well.

“Crucifixion” goes in a much different direction than the rest of the album and will keep those metal fans happy who want strong contrasts in their music. The pace of the song changes significantly, much more keyboard sound effects are utilized, and sighing female vocals are frequently lace throughout. The next song, “Project Savior,” then marks a return to form with breakneck paced guitars and growls from hell to get people out of their seats and into the mosh pit. The final few songs feature a good deal more of the traditional metal sounds from the earliest days of the genre. The lack of new direction doesn’t detract from them much, however, as they are executed well and get the job done.

“The Masquerade” doesn’t bother with much of the flashy or complicated stuff that listeners have to work through over repeated listens. The album is much more interested in getting the power flowing and the fists pumping, which should earn it a spot on the regular rotation of fans of melodic death metal or even more traditional metal.

Highs: High energy sound, interesting layering of clean and growled vocals

Lows: Some clean vocal missteps, doesn't stray too far from the formula

Bottom line: Head banging melodic death metal with a good deal of clean vocals thrown in

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)