Damnation Plan - Reality Illusion - (9/10)
Published on March 10, 2017
I always wondered what happened to the members of Kiuas, that awesome power metal band from Finland. Vocalist Asim Searah was picked up by fellow countrymen Damnation Plan. His powerful pipes still pack a punch – but this time in the realm of melodic death metal. After a solid debut album, it would be four years before this relatively new band were able to satisfy their fans again. The good news is that they have done exactly that! 2017’s Reality Illusion takes the groundwork laid down four years prior, and builds layers upon it that improve the band’s sound tenfold.
After a brief introduction, settling the listener into the album’s atmosphere, “Beyond These Walls” bursts from the speakers with a riff straight out of Gothenburg. Combined with the by-the-books growls of co-vocalist Tommy Tuovinen, this makes for a perfect headbang-worthy opening. Despite the ferociousness of some of the riffs, this record knows when to reign in the ferocity and let the melodies do the talking. It commands respect and owns an essense of maturity. The melodies themselves are well-crafted and get easily stuck in your head, without being insipid or annoying. This is most notable on the crooning chorus of “Rise Of The Messenger”, where Asim and Tommy pull off some gorgeous harmonies.
Despite being masters of the melody, Damnation Plan are quick to remind you that this is a melo-death album, before you get lulled into relaxation. “Blinded Faith” knocks you on your ass with some huge riffage and excellent build-ups, displaying the band’s penchant for good songwriting. Every song may have a recognizable refrain, but it never dwindles to pop song status. There are many sections between verses and choruses that hold their own – and the two minute instrumental “The Empowerment” is almost the full-length personification of this. It’s a platform for the talent of Antti Lauri’s lead guitar skills, who never appears to be shredding for the sake of showing off – but fusing perfectly with the music. That being said, Reality Illusion is packed with impressive solos, and even more impressive keyboard work; constantly present, adding that extra dimension, but never overpowering.
This new release is structured perfectly, and flows like a journey. After the first four tracks, the pace eases off as we approach the steadier central songs, like the ballad-esque “Maze Of Despair” (where Asim gives his best performance yet) and the muti-faceted “Iron Curtain Falls” (which crushes you with the best riff on the album at the 3 minute mark). Later on, a doom-laden instrumental leads you into the epic 8-minute closer “The Final Destination” which has many peaks and valleys, but is overall a mature and climactic finale. Rarely does an album in this sub-genre satisfy me so much, but Reality Illusion is quite the voyage; dynamic and coherent. With a release of this calibre, Damnation Plan are set to push the envelope of melodic death metal – long may they continue!