Whorion - The Reign of the 7th Sector - (8/10)
Published on May 12, 2015
Like Fleshgod Apocalypse? Then you will presumably enjoy Whorion’s debut, The Reign of the 7th Sector. Abstruse nomenclature aside, those pining for a big-sounding atmosphere attached at the hip to some level of technical proficiency will find high value in this Finnish quintet’s approach. To me, these are all familiar faces, making Whorion come off as an orphanage for displaced melodeath musicians that were sent packing after that whole craze began to fizzle out a few years back. In any event, symphonic death metal is the order of the Scandinavian day here, undergirded by sweeping, programmed orchestras and terse atmosphere. The masterful touch of Anssi Kippo behind the knobs keeps the entire proceeding from devolving into wall-of-sound occlusion. This should work well.
And The Reign of the 7th Sector certainly delivers what is advertised, which is a challenging balancing act between the rapid fire delivery of the rhythm section and the epic sluice of atmosphere winding in and out of the metal framework. Such tributaries ultimately feed into what is honestly a decent lampooning of Demigod-era Behemoth, what with the comical overuse of pinch harmonics and overall Babylonian aesthetic evoked. Save for some rather predictable contemporary riffing passages, the lack of subtlety does Whorion some measure of favor, and I get the sense that an appreciable level of care was put into these compositions. The band didn’t just copy and paste in Pro Tools until something approaching a complete song began to take shape. “Flesh of Gods” truly sets the scene when it begins to fire off and pick up momentum, competing with the more controlled entropy of “Blood of the Weak” for the number one spot.
Individual performances are apt, although I have to bring to question the point of the technical aesthetic, since the band seems rather hesitant about this facet of their sound. Rautamaa and Lauri repeatedly burst into spastic flourishes of notes, but nothing really challenging the chops that I know they possess. It comes off as an unnecessary distraction more often than it should, and flies in the face of the stony-faced significance triggered by the remainder of Whorion’s massive sonic palette. That said, I definitely tip my hat to Heikki Saari for his performance behind the kit here. I know he was really upset when Norther disbanded a few years ago, but it looks like he is finally getting his due both in Whorion and Finntroll. Certainly no mistake either, as he is confidently behind the wheel for the entire duration of The Reign of the 7th Sector, absolutely decimating the top end of the kit and making a strong case for one of death metal’s better drummers.
As pretentious and overstuffed as Whorion’s sound may be at times, they were wise enough to make the album a relatively compact whole for easy digestion. Even with a thirty-five minute runtime, nearly five of those are made up of two instrumentals that lead into some of the stronger songs. “Immaculate” is obviously one of these, gut-siphoning and elegant at the same time. There’s a slight berth of inconsistency summoned when the band needlessly emphasizes their technical side, but thankfully this avoids overt banality more often than not. The Reign of the 7th Sector was a record I had been waiting on for a while, and it is nice to see that it lived up to most of its promise. I don’t think this is going to change anyone’s mind concerning symphonic death metal, but it makes a strong case for Finland in a scene of very heavy hitters. Thankfully Whorion have a haymaker or two up their collective sleeve as well.