Holy crap. Consider my mind blown.
Sweden’s Progressive Metal scene continues to surprise me again and again. First it was SEVENTH WONDER back in 2006, and now VINDICTIV, both of whom have garnered perfect-ten scores. Just to make sure I wasn’t jumping to any hasty conclusions, I listened to VINDICTIV’s self-titled debut album almost ten times before reviewing it, and to my surprise, I loved it even more each time. If that isn’t the mark of a great album, then I don’t know what is.
The overall VINDICTIV sound is very similar to SEVENTH WONDER in the sense that the band finds a very comfortable balance between progressive technicality and plain ol’ catchiness (interestingly, Tommy Karevik, SEVENTH WONDER’s singer, was actually in VINDICTIV at one point). The songs easily wow you with their intricacy, but at the same time, the catchy choruses make them instantly accessible. Try listening to “A Quiet Life” or “A Second Life,” for example; both songs start out with fairly violent instrumental passages, yet they quickly transition into some of the smoothest choruses I’ve heard all year.
The driving force behind VINDICTIV is guitarist Stefan Lindholm, as his capable playing lays down the framework for everything else on the album. He constantly alternates between proggy chugs and full-blown shredding, thus keeping things interesting. A cool example is the intro to “Fata Morgana,” which shows Lindholm shredding his heart out until the drums begin to change tempo, at which point Linholm appears to slow down his shredding to match the tempo change before launching into a completely different rhythm.
Another major player in the album’s success is singer Goran Edman, who once sang for the fiery Yngwie Malmsteen. Edman has a fantastic voice; the likeliest comparison I could think of would be Bernhard Weiss of AXXIS. His vocals are extremely diverse, as proved by his performance on “Caesar’s Commentaries”; he has no qualms about experimenting with his voice and having it sound dramatic and overwrought just for effect (another example is the intro to “Dreams Of A Demon’s Head”). His lyrics are also amazing; Edman shows complete mastery of the language by shying away from the cheesy clichés that often show up in the lyrics of European bands, and all of the thoughts he expresses are intelligent and thought-provoking. Basically, it’s the kind of lyrics that any Progressive band worth their salt should have, and thanks to Edman, VINDICTIV has it in spades.
I desperately searched for any kind of flaw in the album, but try as I might, I couldn’t find any whatsoever. There isn’t a single weak song on the album; while some might be more impressive or catchier than others, even the “weak” songs by this album’s standards are still above-average by Progressive Metal’s standards. Simply put, this is one of the best albums of 2008. I can’t wait for whatever VINDICTIV has planned in the future, but based on the magnificence of their debut album, it can only be amazing.
(Online June 18, 2008)