Our favourite Californian Viking, Anthony Prechtl, has finally finished his second full album under the banner DIADEM and as I already had been able to hear parts during its creation, I was really looking forward to hearing how the whole thing would sound complete and mixed.
As before he basically did it all on his own, from song writing over recording, production, mix to the artwork, and he continued to expand his horizons compared to the debut “Crimson Sunset”. He has moved away a little from the more or less traditional Viking Metal, even though the lyrics still are deeply rooted in Nordic mythology, more towards a wider sound, yet without losing its original musical vision.
He still has a very good hand for writing varied and flowing songs, adding great melodies and changing vocals and also managing to give the lyrics a matching atmosphere. Only in the higher regions of the clear voice and a few of the choir sections there is a bit of power lacking, but it does not drag down the songs.
Only rarely it becomes clear that Anthony uses a drum-computer, as it is greatly programmed and has a very nicely organic sound, which is a definitive positive factor, as there are many rhythm changes, which most others completely lose direction while programming them. A very dynamic song such as "Treason Of The Fimbul Winter" benefits a lot from this and even more so the brilliant "Rain Upon A Shattered Sword", which is the best song so far that Anthony has composed. It starts out with acoustic guitar and slow rhythm, before adding calm vocals until the song suddenly explodes with thundering double-bass and Black Metal vocals, which then once more alternate with the clear voice, just to return to the calmness of the beginning again.
The two extremes of DIADEM’s sound are best displayed by the furious “Following Wyrd” and its harsh vocals, and the completely cleanly sung, balladesque "Alive", so to say forming the framework for the rest of the album. "Through Storms We Tread" is another very varied and dynamic song, while "The Meeting At Ida Plain" sets a hymnic closing point.
With the exception of the mentioned small flaws in the sound of the clear vocals here and there the production has turned out great for a home production, clear and powerful and with the continued maturation in song writing DIADEM have reached a level now that can definitely compete with many label productions and leaves some cough in the dust, so give this young man a chance, he definitely deserves it! (Online September 9, 2006)