Vidres a la Sang - Som
Xtreem Music
Black/Death Metal
6 songs (53:18)
Release year: 2009
Official Myspace, Xtreem Music
Reviewed by Charles
Surprise of the month
Catalonia’s Vidres a la Sang are now on their third album, although this is the first I’ve ever heard of them. Something about a Spanish extreme metal band with roots in power and heavy metal made me think of Gothmog, but that ain’t fair. The only point of likeness is that both bands have a similar knack for vivid tunefulness (and both are on Xtreem). This album is a deftly created alloy of various metals; at times sounding like Meshuggah, at times sounding like Altar of Plagues, at times sounding like Urgehal, yet permanently retaining a glowingly melodic aura.

In fact, despite the frighteningly garish cover art and the Alejandro De Ossorio-like sound effects that surface in between each track, part of me keeps returning to the idea that it is all a little too non-threatening. This is something I often find with albums that have large elements of black metal but which don’t seem to fully embrace its darkness (Goatwhore). The polished and gleaming melodeath of Policromia is a double-edge sword in that sense. Another potential criticism might be that it’s a little too much like a collection of different metallic ideas that doesn’t really anything new. The end of Esclaus de Modernitat, for example, is lifted straight from the “dum dum dum dum” bit from Opeth’s Deliverance, with its effectiveness dulled by the law of diminishing returns.

The more I listen the more this seems unfair, however, because this is extremely well put together, with each of its lengthy songs having several points of significant interest. El Crit, for example, starts life as buzzing Dissection-like melodic black metal elegance. But it takes a dramatic U-turn into a clunking, thudding groove like something you might expect to hear in Lost Soul’s more pumping moments. And then there is the poignant sound of harmonised lead guitar lines sounding for all the world like they’ve stumbled proggily in from Opeth’s Burden. Many of their songs do have that Opeth quality, feeling a lot like they are meandering from one idea to another, even if here they probably form more coherent individual tracks. The downside to that greater focus, in this case, is the more limited dynamic pallete. I’m often left waiting for them to do something truly out of the blue, but it never quite happens. The oddest composition, and the darkest moment, here is closer No Tornare a Ser Jove, which repeatedly dies away to morbidly stifled muted guitar lines before kicking back in suddenly with Shining-reminiscent tremolo black metal. As we get towards the end, synths start to intervene in these interludes, warming up its aura to an extent but also turning it into a fittingly grandiose climax.

Ultimately the person this should appeal to is the metal listener who searches for melody and a sense of compositional adventuring, rather than devotees of extremity. This is not to say that it isn’t heavy, and it certainly has its moments. But there is little doubt that it is a cerebral album; more heartfelt than it is crushing. Of course, the same could be said for something like White Tomb, one of 2009’s highlights, and in its more melancholic, brooding moments Som achieves something similarly powerful. It’s just that here we get to that dark heart via layers of shimmering melodeath and chugging groove.

Killing Songs :
El Crit, Policromia, No Tornare a Ser Jove
Charles quoted 80 / 100
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