Meadows End - The Grand Antiquation - (9/10)
Published on February 23, 2019
Although they’re not a very famous band, Meadows End has been around for two decades and as this album shows, they have gathered a lot of experience during that time. The Grand Antiquation is the Swedish group’s fourth full-length album and it delivers a seriously satisfying dose of melodic death metal with a powerful symphonic side. It is the shortest album in the band’s discography but a very enjoyable one nonetheless.
The band’s sound is defined by fast, energetic riffs and dynamic drumming with a lot of symphony keeping the music in the “epic” range of things almost throughout the entire record. The vivid and pretty impactful style makes it very appealing and easy to get into, with a good amount of hooks and catchy elements but enough intricacy to mix it up, keeping it fresh and authentic. I think pretty much any death metal fan should have no problem getting into this band as they really do justice to all the elements of the genre and have no problem in making it all sound cohesive and natural. But they also stand out from the pattern in a lot of ways. There’s a surprising amount of groove in here that quickly hypes you up and gets you moving. It’s very headbang inducing and certainly has the kind of punch you need to get a crowd into moshing during a live performance. They score big on the chugs and breakdown-ish stuff, making the music a lot of fun and being undeniably “metal as fuck”. Also the vocal performance is pretty neat, shooting some growls that weirdly remind me of Tomi Joutsen from Amorphis and Riley McShane from Allegaeon at the same time. There’s the guttural aspect as well as a lot of volume that brings all the more power.
However, there are a few more tricks up their sleeve that push this album to a level that is superior to that of straightforward melo-death. That would be the symphonic part and it’s not the fact that they have a lot of it in there that makes it special as much as the way it is used. All the orchestra blends into the metal backbone that sustains the album and sounds very connected to it. That brings a lot more artistry to the full soundscape and shows them favoring not just badassery but also a lot of class. The symphonic elements bring a lot of variety and it seems like they’ve avoided the generic “layering chords” phenomena, making the music both epic and cinematic. The keyboard parts are also very well written, adding a lot to the melodic side of the album. In fact both keyboard and lead guitar sections do a lot of work in making this as musical as it is heavy and at times taking your mind away from the punch to have you focusing on the flow of the music.
After listening to this album in full more than once, I can’t find a reason why this remains an “unknown band”. For me they’re easily as enjoyable as death metal acts the likes of Amorphis, Dark Tranquility or Amon Amarth, oftentimes actually surpassing these names in musicianship and creativity. They have a lot of maturity and are really skilled in putting the pieces together and making them work as one. Just see how the riffs and drumming kicks in over the orchestration in the intro of Devilution to see how fluid it feels. Technicality is also abundant and they’re no strangers to some shredding during the guitar solos or some blast beats on the drums but they only use these sort of things when it makes sense and don’t just throw them in there for skill display.
To make the recipe complete, there are a few clean vocal parts in some of the songs and they also slow down from time to time putting most of their energy into melody and symphony. This enables their music to reach a wide variety of moods and atmospheres. Meadows End definitely plays a big part in taking melodic death metal to the next level, going full throttle on everything the genre stands for without being afraid to bend the rules where they see fit. And for that they deserve your attention.