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Light This City - "The Hero Cycle (reissue)" (CD)

Light This City - "The Hero Cycle (reissue)" CD cover image

"The Hero Cycle (reissue)" track listing:

1. Apostate (4:30)
2. Picture: Start (2:29)
3. Give Up (3:24)
4. Parisian Sun (2:03)
5. "Cold" (At The Gates Cover) (3:29)
6. Laid to Rest (3:20)
7. Sierra (3:28)
8. No Solace in Sleep (3:49)
9. The Weight of Glory (2:50)
10. Next to Godliness (3:50)

Reviewed by on February 25, 2010

"'The Hero Cycle' is an uneven debut, but there are shining examples of what would become of Light This City only a few years later."

“The Hero Cycle” is a re-issue of Light This City’s 2003 debut album. Out of print for years, this is the first chance many people are getting to hear what the melodic death metal band sounded like before their sound was honed in on future releases. The album, written and recorded while the band was still in high school, displays four young musicians who wear their influences proudly on their sleeves. This is At The Gates/In Flames worship at its finest; not much originality to be found here. “The Hero Cycle” is an uneven debut, but there are shining examples of what would become of Light This City only a few years later.

The ten tracks encompass everything that’s both good and bad about the Gothenburg death metal scene; the guitar harmonies, bland rhythm work, and throaty growls that draw the line between furious and monotonous. The production on the re-release is crisp and clear, though it retains a pinch of rawness. The songwriting doesn’t have much going for it, as many of the songs blend together due to similar-sounding riffs and melodies. Nothing really stands out, and while the band is full of competent musicians, there isn’t anything overly technical to be found.

At a short 33 minutes, the album flies by with little fanfare. The At The Gates cover is adequate, but the band does little to add their own imprint. “Picture: Start” and “Parisian Sun” have an aggressive drive to them that sparks some energy to the proceedings, while the slower-paced closer “Next to Godliness” showcases a slight progression that would be expanded upon later down the career path. These songs are a welcomed diversion from the rest of the album, which is nothing more than generic melodic death metal that would have sounded impressive in 1996.

There aren’t any outright stinkers, definitely a positive for any band’s debut album, but a few missteps trip up Light This City. “The Weight of Glory” is an awful attempt at metalcore, with poor clean vocals and a tame melodic chorus. The verses have a solid riff to back them up, but then the chorus comes in to ruin any momentum. This is the only attempt at clean vocals on the album, a wise move considering vocalist Laura Nichol growls are top-notch. Those growls would only become more potent by the time their last album “Stormchaser” came out.

Fans have been clamoring for years about “The Hero Cycle,” but Light This City’s debut isn’t anything to get too worked up about. This is straightforward melodic death metal, with no real innovation or forward thinking. “Slaughter Of The Soul” was definitely on repeat a lot when these songs were written, as any of them could have been B-sides from that infamous album. “The Hero Cycle” is a far cry from the band’s more developed albums later on, but every band has to start somewhere; even if that somewhere is a glorified tribute act.

Highs: Adequate cover of At The Gates' "Cold," slight progression in closer "Next To Godliness," Laura Nichol's strong growls.

Lows: Simplistic rhythm work, sounds too much like At The Gates/In Flames, no originality present.

Bottom line: An uneven debut that shows Light This City wearing their melodic death metal influences on their sleeves.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 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)