Canopy - Menhir
Progressive Melodic Death
7 songs (36:00)
Release year: 2010
Reviewed by Goat

It’s always a pleasure to follow a band’s evolution, from early demo EP to rampaging third album, and there’s especial pleasure with Sweden’s Canopy, given that frontman Fredrik Huldtgren is a longstanding member of our very own forum. Of course, there’s absolutely no nepotism in the site’s praise of the band – they’re brilliant, and that’s that. 2006’s Serene Catharsis is still a frequent guest to my playlist, but as good as that was, Menhir is a step further, a step up, a step beyond. The songs are better, the playing is better, the production is better; this is the sound of Canopy shifting into high gear, and blasting from the surface of the underground into what will hopefully be big-label fame and fortune, and deservedly so. It’s hard to put your finger down on exactly what it is that Menhir does better than before – the sheer professionalism at play would be a good start, running through the album and ensuring everything sounds as brilliant as it does.

Examples of this are plentiful. The opening title track is simply astonishing, opening Opeth-y acoustics turning to prog-touched melodic riffing and jazzy cymbal-tapping, building epically to a stomping gallop that will crush heads and ruin necks everywhere. Fredrik’s deep, throaty growl is as earth-shaking as ever, but it’s guitarists Jonatan Hedlin and Fredrik Segell’s varied and technical playing that really sets these songs up to be as masterly as they are. They’re as capable of thrashy tech-metal riffing as they are of more atmospheric, melodic fare, and their performance here is simply spectacular throughout. Of course, bassist Daniel Ahlm and drummer Peter Lindqvist are a near-perfect rhythm section, and form the album’s solid backbone.

Melodic Death Metal generally has a bad reputation for the way that the genre has stagnated, although there are still bands out there doing great things with it, and Canopy are most definitely one of them. Rarely do you hear songs as good as the cascading malevolence of A Storm Within A Storm, built on Gothenburg foundations yet which reaches to the most out-there of heights, complete with dizzying solos. The following acoustic/electric rumble of Earth Splits Into Fire takes you even higher, subtle atmospheric keyboards completing an already perfect picture, before the melodic trade-offs that open the gloriously widdly New Construct, again channelling Opeth but this time with the sheer expert grasp of drama that pervades the track, and much of the album.

Really, I could pick any of the seven songs and wax lyrical, from the switches between frantic tech-death and melancholic introspection of The Entire City to the grandiose anthem that is Inward Burst. The atmospheric closing Zenith is barely four minutes long, and then that’s it, this painfully short album leaving you not so much wanting more, as begging for it. When your only complaint about an album is that it’s half as long as you’d like to be, you know that you’re onto a winner – really, Canopy have outdone themselves, creating the best album of their career to date. You can hear samples of this here.

Killing Songs :
Menhir, A Storm Within A Storm, Earth Splits Into Fire, New Construct, Inward Burst
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Canopy that we have reviewed:
Canopy - Will And Perception reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Canopy - Serene Catharsis reviewed by Kayla and quoted 91 / 100
Canopy - Will And Perception (EP) reviewed by Ken and quoted 95 / 100
Canopy - During Day One (EP) reviewed by Ken and quoted 70 / 100
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