Sadhara - To Hell, With Sympathy
Melodic Death Metal
9 songs (38:31)
Release year: 2006
Reviewed by Kayla

One of the aspects of metal I love best is the potential for deep contrast within even a single song. I like the momentary surprise of hearing a blackened edge, or a sudden doomier heaviness to death metal riffing, for example, and I’m generally a fan of mixing vocal styles, like harsh and clean singing, or different timbres of harsh vocals. Such touches can serve to add interest to an otherwise unremarkable piece of music as well as elevate a good, solid song to something sublime. Unfortunately for Sadhara, they only manage the first; they play a fairly basic brand of melodic death metal with dual clean and harsh vocals, both done by the same vocalist. This isn’t remarkable in and of itself; plenty of bands have only one vocalist handling different kinds of vocals. However, until To Hell, With Sympathy came across my desk, I had yet to year a female vocalist pulling this double duty over an entire album.

The vocalist and frontwoman of Sadhara, Katherine Burke, has a solid set of pipes on her. Instead of being operatic, her clean vocals are resonant and powerful, without sacrificing any of the soft, soaring melody that one expects from a female vocalist. Her harsh vocals, however, manage the kind of fury that Angela Gossow pulls forth from her throat. Interestingly enough, the parallels to Arch Enemy don’t end there. Much of the meat of To Hell, With Sympathy sounds like it wants very much to be on Wages Of Sin, with a steadily growling bass line and a shifting, more intricate set of riffs to push the songs along. Unfortunately, the riffing isn’t always up to snuff, even by the admittedly glutted standards of melodic death metal. The more simplistic passages are often too pared down, as in the middle of Twilight Ushers The Maddened, where it’s pulled back to two alternating notes. The second track, My Kingdom Pain, while it doesn’t quite go so far as to use two notes, somehow manages to Arch Enemy-ify a scale.

Fortunately, although this hamstringing simplicity crops up a few times throughout the album, the song structures are varied enough that it doesn’t detract too much from the album as a whole. To Hell, With Sympathy has a few interesting tricks as well. The opening (and title) track starts things off solidly, with a rising and falling riff that crops up throughout the track. About halfway through the album, the listener finally gets a track that maintains the promise of the first few measures throughout with The Ill-Tempered Stratocaster. As one might imagine from the title, it’s an instrumental track, and, if the eponymous Strat is angry, it only translates into a variety of riffage that most of the other songs lack. No simplicity here, folks, and be glad of it.

One of the best aspects of the album, besides Burke’s vocals, is the drumming. Iwan Hendrikx both complements and helps showcase the outstanding moments in the guitar work and helps back up the too-pared-down passages with something solid underneath. If Sadhara can just spread those interesting riffs a bit more fully through the songs, they’ll have something truly solid. It might still sound too much like Arch Enemy, but at least it will be more interesting than two notes.

Killing Songs :
To Hell, With Sympathy, Bliss, Beauty Etched Into Sunset
Kayla quoted 68 / 100
Other albums by Sadhara that we have reviewed:
Sadhara - Demo 2003 reviewed by Jeff and quoted no quote
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