If ever there was an oxymoron then it would be the term melodic death metal; they are two genres that really should never be combined but when it works it can be spectacular and when it doesn’t then the least said the better. It is not my medium for ‘go to’ music so I have been unaware of the excitement that the band has caused since forming in 2020 with Act Of Denial being something of an international supergroup having been formed by the guitarists Voi Cox (Koziak, Victim) and Luger (Koziak, Benighted) along with vocalist Björn Strid (Soilwork), bassist Steve Di Giorgio (Death, Testament), drummer Kerim Lechner (Septicflesh) and keyboard player John Lönnmyr (The Night Flight Orchestra).
For sure, if you are a fan of the more extreme variation of heavy metal then this is a line up to send tingles up your spine and for good reason as this is one hell of a rocking album. The drumming and bass is simply incredible and set at skull crushing level with the vocals being an intriguing mixture of clean and dirty but even the guttural and deep vocals have a beauty about them as they are used to convey power and aggression but in no way are they over the top or too extreme. The clean vocals offer a perfect counterpoint and this is the perfect example of different vocal styles working in harmony rather than as distinct and never to meet contrast. As such, Björn Strid shows himself to be a true master of metal but then you know that already didn’t you and if you are a Soilwork fan or, indeed, death metal in general then you are going to love this 46-minutes of thoroughly enjoyable metal mayhem that is melodic, melancholic, aggressive and just so intense and tension filled but it explodes with so much power that your every musical whim is satisfied.
The album also features some crucial and critical guest appearances with Bobby Koelble (Death), Peter Wichers (ex Soilwork), Matias Eklundh (Freak Kitchen) and Ron Thal (Guns N’ Roses, Sons of Apollo) getting in on the action and all seem to be having the time of their lives. I normally start getting all reticent when I see the term death metal but this album has gone a long way to making me realise that melodic death metal has much to offer. If you already know of the band or musicians involved then you will already be into this rather moody but magnificent album but if the name is new then I would recommend an immediate listen as this is an album of epic proportions that will satisfy all of your heavy metal needs and is a real game changer in terms of bringing death metal to a much wider audience.
Time is going to be very kind to this band and album and I suspect that they are going to be a very cool name to drop in rock circles.
- Puzzle Heart (4:10)
- Controlled (4:29)
- Down The Line (4:31)
- In The Depths Of Destruction (4:39)
- Negative (4:50)
- Slave (4:24)
- Lost Circle (4:57)
- Deflection wall (4:34)
- Your Dark Desire (4:31)
- Clutching At Rays Of The Light (4:51)