Pauli Souka – Guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals, composing, lyrics, programming, layout, production
Paulina Medepona – Vocals (track 6)
Andras Miklosvari – Keyboards (tracks 4, 5, 6, 7)
1. 61° 43′ N 17° 07 E
2. The Invocation
3. Endurance Through Infinity
4. My Solace
5. The Gale
6. The Eminent Light
7. Winters Unfold
8. Shades of Myself
9. Towards the Weeping Skies
Melodeath-doom. A term for those bands who take the tempered viciousness of melodic death metal into darker, gloomier territory. Coldbound join the likes of Insomnium, Swallow the Sun and Omnium Gatherum, setting out to craft something dark, mournful and brimming over with grief. According to the band’s bio, this is their first foray into this specific kind of music, with previous offerings having been more black metal.
Most of the album sticks solid to a low-tempo dirge of melancholy riffs and snarled vocals. It aims for a somewhat hypnotic quality in the deliberately repetitive rhythms, a bit like The Foreshadowing or early Katatonia. Occasionally it does lapse into softer sections, but mostly just to punctuate the more common harsh sound.
It’s clearly working to envelop the listener in this thick, dark world, but how effectively it does so will really depend on the listener’s taste and tolerance for this particular brand of music. Personally, I’d enjoy a bit more in terms of dynamics: some changing song structures, some more variety in the album, better use of the harsh-soft contrast. As it is, most of it ends up blending together. Some bands just have a real knack for making something immersive and hypnotic (looking at you, Neurosis). The Gale never quite reaches that level of engrossing, though it can come close, and for those with a particular taste for this kind of music it may do.
“Shades of Myself” embodies this problem. It’s a decent enough core melody, but all it does is repeat that exact melody for 5 and a half minutes. Other songs might not be quite as overt as that, but most suffer from the same basic problem: they plod along for 5-7 minutes, and while what they do in that time isn’t bad, it isn’t enough to sustain that kind of run time.
When it works, it can be effective: closing track “Towards the Weeping Skies” hits hard and does a surprisingly decent job of maintaining its sorrowful momentum. The opening few minutes of the album show some promise with more aggressive drumming, though this disappears for most of the rest of the record.
The overall message and intent of the album is also worth both mention and praise: the band intends to raise awareness of mental health issues such as depression and, despite the dark tone of the music, combat it through an inspiring message of endurance and overcoming these struggles. Musically, I can’t ignore the issues this album has, predominantly that it would work much better with greater attention to song dynamics and variety. But it’s still a worthwhile attempt, especially for those with a real taste for this style.