Want to know what the new BEYOND THE EMBRACE album sounds like? Just take IN FLAMES' "Colony" album, transpose it to our time, add a rougher production, throw in a Hard Rock edge, then bump up both the use of clean vocals and the level of catchiness and you'll have "Insect Song". However, despite the undeniable IN FLAMES comparisons (check out the title track and attempt to disagree) "Insect Song" should in no way be discarded as just another Melodic Death album, as BEYOND THE EMBRACE demonstrate exactly how to draw inspiration from their influences without copying them completely.
My relationship with this ensemble's second release since their 2002 debut has been interesting to say the least. When I first put this CD on, I was half expecting and half hoping for some slick sounding, catchy, albeit run-of-the-mill Melodic Death Metal to emanate from my speakers. Instead, an old school sounding riff with more akin to Hard Rock than Metal kicks things off, much to my surprise. Feeling somewhat disappointed, my expectations soon dropped even lower due to the rough sounding production, rendering my first impression of "Insect Song" less then favourable. But as time wore on, I kept returning to this album, feeling drawn to the uncharacteristic traits that initially put me off. Sure enough, I grew fonder with each listen and can now admit that I was wrong to dismiss "Insect Song" so quickly as this album has succeeded in proving its worth.
As I mentioned earlier, "Insect Song" shares more than a few similarities with "Colony", whether in the lyrical themes or vocalist Shawn Gallagher's near perfect replication of Mr. Friden. Though this may put off certain listeners, BEYOND THE EMBRACE more than succeed in incorporating their own style to each song so as to avoid any "clone" banners. The unpolished production and Hard Rock groove that initially put me off have actually grown on me considerably while also giving BEYOND THE EMBRACE a certain uniqueness most bands fail to attain. This uniqueness is something that has unfortunately become ever scarcer in the realms of Melodic Death as more and more bands these days seem to be taking the easy way out, churning out album after album of uninspired material. BEYOND THE EMBRACE thankfully avoid this trend. It should also be mentioned that thanks to this group's use of three guitarists "Insect Song" never runs out of memorable riffs or solos at any time over the course of the album. I honestly can't see guitar enthusiasts feeling anything but satisfied by the time this album's conclusion is reached.
All comparisons aside, BEYOND THE EMBRACE have released a high quality slab of Metal that has grown and continues to grow on me. Raw, catchy and full of energy, "Insect Song" should easily satisfy those who still yearn for the IN FLAMES of old. (Online June 30, 2004)