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Kambrium - "Dark Reveries" (CD)

Kambrium - "Dark Reveries" CD cover image

"Dark Reveries" track listing:

1. Dark Reveries (Intro)
2. Taken By The Storm
3. Scepter Of The Serpent
4. Spellbound By A Nightmare
5. Dark Lights (Feat. Thomas Winkler)
6. Beastly Hybris
7. Lake Gloom (Feat. Amanda Somerville)
8. The Distant Shore
9. Frost Reflection
10. Opus Aeturnus (Feat. Melanie Mau)

Reviewed by on September 11, 2013

"On 'Dark Reveries,' melody is the central focus from which all points of styles converge, and the band never loses sight of it."

Back in early 2012, Kambrium’s “Shadowpath” landed in my lap… and by all accounts, the 2011 release would have easily made it into the Top 10 albums and new bands for that year, had I known. Determined to not be left behind this time around, when the news broke about the sophomore full-length “Dark Reveries,” I secured an early advance. The album makes a stronger case for this young German band, which now leads similar acts by a wide margin. “Dark Reveries” is blinding brutality enveloped inside a symphonic wall of melody performed with the precision on par with metal’s most veteran acts. The band has progressed even farther than “Shadowpath,” setting a new standard in the industry.

Choosing the well-oiled route of a conceptual release, “Dark Reveries” tells the story of a man who wakes up into his own nightmares and is unable to escape. On paper, elements of symphonic, epic, progressive, classic, and power with vocals steeped in crimson blood of death seems like a disharmonious union of styles. Throughout it all, the binding element that runs throughout Kambrium is one usually lost in many of the extreme genres: melody. On "Dark Reveries," melody is the central focus from which all points of styles converge, and the band never loses sight of it.

Though more common in recent years, the combination of power and death still tends to polarize fans of both of the main genres – death metal fans whining about “sappy galloping melodies” and power metal fans cringing at “those horrid vocals.” However, as more and more bands mix styles, tipping slightly more in either direction, there has been more of a common ground for fans of both. Where Ex Deo leans more toward the brutality, and Wintersun toward the symphonic, Kambrium is a perfect balance of melodic brutality. Fans of past greats like “A Sinners Remorse” and “Arming for Retribution,” will find the boundaries shattered yet again with new classics “Spellbound By a Nightmare,” “Beastly Hybris,” “Scepter of the Serpent” and epic eleven minute “Opus Aeturnus” (which features the lovely vocals of guest Melanie Mau).

Bassist/vocalist Martin Simon employs a diverse array of death growls mixed with brother Karsten’s ever improving clean style. Julian Schenke and Karston Simon elevate their guitar mastery with richly engaging riffs and solos. Drummer Fabien Chmiel shows breadth of artistry with exciting fills and often blinding double bass. The driving melodic force and songwriting mastery is contained within the “spellbinding” beauty of Jan Hein’s keyboard work. The album’s most striking tracks are the haunting “Lake Gloom,” featuring Amanda Somerville (Avantasia/Trillium) and the power metal driving “Dark Lights.” The latter contains the vocal highlight of the release: Gloryhammer’s Thomas Winkler (Ex-Emerald).

“Dark Reveries” easily ranks among the year’s finest albums, an exciting union of two extremes that will please fans across genre boundaries. Undoubtedly, there will be some who prefer a more extreme direction and others who will criticize Martin’s death growls, but like a conjoined twin with angelic and evil halves, the band wouldn’t be the same without both. Kambrium has arrived…again.

Highs: Strong engaging melodies, excellent songwriting, a new standard.

Lows: The union of power metal and extreme can be polarizing for fans of both genres.

Bottom line: Spellbinding melodies and beautiful brutality clash for "Dark Reveries" you will never want to wake from!

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

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)