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Pictures of Pain - "The Reckoning" (CD)

Pictures of Pain - "The Reckoning" CD cover image

"The Reckoning" track listing:

1. Betrayal
2. Far Beyond
3. Eternal Rage
4. Deviator
5. Sign Of Times
6. Years Of Disgrace
7. The Reckoning
8. Final State
9. From The Ashes (Demo '06)
10. Guardian Of Tears (Demo '05)

Reviewed by on May 17, 2011

"There's no doubt that Pictures of Pain has plenty of skills, but the clumsy combination of melodic and extreme metal sounds makes 'The Reckoning' a sometimes painful listen. "

Pictures of Pain's debut disc, "The Reckoning" tries hard to combine melodic metal with extreme shouts and sounds, with mixed results. There's no denying that the band has considerable chops, but sometimes the combination of sounds feels forced.

For example, there's the opener, "Betrayal," which bounces back and forth between a melodic guitar part and Hans Helge Iversen's screams and growls. The song struggles to gain momentum, despite an amazing guitar solo from Rune Fredriksen and some later Halford-ish falsetto screams from Iversen.

Conversely, there are the times like a section of "Far Beyond" that mixes Frode Gundersen's fast double-bass drumming with a comparatively gentle guitar line from Fredriksen and rhythm guitarist Arne Marton Tangjerd.

Iversen's melodic vocals are definitely impressive, with an almost power-metal purity on tracks like "The Reckoning." He imbues "Deviator" with enough of a Rob Halford feel to evoke Judas Priest, even as the band puts the pedal to the medal, speed-wise.

As noted earlier, Fredriksen's lead guitar work is quite stellar, with a bluesy, elegaic solo providing the perfect ending to "From The Ashes."

In fact, it's the band's innate ability in the melodic sections that make the extreme elements seem like they came out of nowhere. For example, "Guardian Of Tears" makes little or no transition between Iversen's melodic beginning and the screamy shouts that follow. In fact, the one time the extreme elements don't feel out of place is on "Eternal Rage," and that's mostly because they dominate the song.

There's no doubt that Pictures of Pain has plenty of skills, but the clumsy combination of melodic and extreme metal sounds makes "The Reckoning" a sometimes painful listen. Here's hoping the Norwegian band can clean things up a bit on its next release.

Highs: Great instrumental and vocal chops shine through on tracks like "The Reckoning" and "Deviator."

Lows: Extreme and melodic metal elements often don't seem to fit well together.

Bottom line: The attempt to blend extreme shouts and sounds with melodic metal doesn't quite work here.

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)