I first heard of this Finnish Doom/Melodic Death Metal band from a very Doomy friend, so I checked samples from their website to preview them before finally getting my hands on their albums.
Dark, Doomish and swaying, RAPTURE's sound consists of a thick wall of guitars. There's not a high level of technicality on this record, but that's not a bad thing. RAPTURE stick with a reasonably minimalist formula, and it works brilliantly. But, in a somewhat bizarre twist, songs such as “The Fall” boast some soaring melodies which create some nice sound scapes, and after a few listens of the album, you'll realise that is a trademark in RAPTURE's sound, even though every track does not utilise such melodies.
“Futile” opens with a simple but fantastic Intro: melancholic acoustic guitars sweep into the sound scape, and several bars later, with a drum fill painted by slightly echoed snares, we are annihilated by a wall of guitars, punctuated with powerful sadness, Doom-like riffing and a rumbling bass carrying it all.
By this time, only into the album, I was almost salivating: totally epic and just fucking powerfully brooding. It's awesome, and it continues into “To Forget”, the next track. By the time we get to the third song “This Is Where I Am”, the emotive feel of the album takes a less Doomy feel and starts to move towards the more melodic, but only a little. The mid section of the record stays at a certain emotional level, dark and brooding, but constant. However, by the time we get to “(About) Leaving”, the dark power of the album's opening is something we return to, this time accompanied with the band's traits we have explored throughout the album's trajectory.
On a sidenote, Petri Eskelinen has a very Mikael Akerfeldt-esque growl. Deep and foreboding, he growls another level of darkness into the RAPTURE sound, at times almost carving into it, which sets the mood of brooding despair beautifully (we see this expand even more on the follow up album, “Songs For The Withering”). I personally found his vocals to work really nicely with the aforementioned melodies.
One thing I noted about this record is that the album "travels", which is something not many bands are able to do these days (in fact, I even found “Brave Murder Day” didn't travel much compared to this album). Many bands do not seem to have any trajectory with their music, and that to me is what separates "the good" from "the great". While bands like OPETH and KATATONIA can generally do this with ease, it's rare to hear someone else come in and do it as well, and it is for this reason that I think RAPTURE have a bright future in store for them.
While the influence of “Brave Murder Day” is strong, I don't think RAPTURE are blatantly ripping off that sound. “Brave Murder Day” didn't have such melodies in it as this record does, and that's why I disagree with many people's comments of this record being a rip off of KATATONIA. Yes, there's an influence, but we all have to start somewhere.
Other influences of note are hints of IRON MAIDEN's “Somewhere In Time” album, plus a few small OPETH “Morningrise”/”Still Life”-esque acoustic sections. While brooding in style, RAPTURE don't have that black emotional edge that KATATONIA have, as some *sections* of songs almost hit lighter shades, and tempo-wise things are pretty constant. I would like to have seen some fluctuations in tempo a little more, with drums, guitars and bass. With the tempo being constant, I feel that is what leads the sound to remind myself and others so much of “Brave Murder Day”.
In summary, I think RAPTURE have created an absolutely killer album here, and I really look forward to seeing this band grow over the next few years. They are certainly able to sit on the throne with OPETH and KATATONIA, but in order to do so, they need to experiment with things a little more until their sound has matured a bit. They certainly have some great building blocks to go off, and we see that clearly on this debut album release.