1. My Star 2. Beautiful Death 3. Fear 4. The Sun Loves The Moon 5. Filthy Angel 6. Subzero 7. Frozen Swan 8. Closed 9. Calm And Distant 10. Kiiminkijoki 11. Sinmaker
Now this is what I'm talking about. While one of the most important metal bands of our time orchestrates their own funeral, a band like Embraze is in the shadows preparing their grand opus. Yes, the mighty Sentenced have called it quits, quietly marching into the stone garden with their last record "The Funeral Album". While many fans will be saddened by their demise, others will rest assured knowing that there are young, talented musicians just simply waiting in the wings, waiting for their time to show the world just what they have in store for a whole new generation of metal fans.
Thank you Crash Music for introducing Embraze to myself and the other Americans who have somehow missed the boat. This young Finnish group have been honing their craft since 1994, mastering themselves and their work through two album releases. Their debut, "Laeh", was released in 1998 through Mastervox Records. The band returned with their second effort a year later, the acclaimed "Intense", an album that finally saw a larger release in 2001 through MTM Music. Now Crash Music has stepped up, finally seeing the perfect timing to introduce this up and coming band. Embraze now unveil their third release and first major attempt at global recognition.
"Katharsis" is just an amazing record, really capturing those cold, northern sounds made famous by the likes of Sentenced, Amorphis, Cry Havoc, and Paradise Lost. In my years of metal collecting I can never find enough of these types of records, the moody, orchestrated atmospheres that are needed for a certain time and place. But "Katharsis" certainly isn't a one dimensional record, no not at all. This album carries on many different genres and avenues, at times just simply breathtaking in each quick turn of pace. For the most part the band keep it heavy metal, combining everything from power to classic metal, but they still add in that lethal dose of sinister, gothic atmosphere. You can hear influences from Type-O-Negative to Moonspell, all neatly spoken and wrapped up in a layer of gothic keys and whispered cautions. I've never been a huge fan of gothic metal, but Embraze keeps "Katharsis" moving forward much like a power metal record. The fast riffs keep coming, the arrangements build towards big chorus parts, and for the most part vocalist Lauri Tuohimaa (a male singer I might add) keeps everything fresh with a variety of vocal styles.
In regards to the Sentenced comparison I would speculate that Embraze falls more on the "Amok" era of Sentenced. Tuohimaa's voice is slightly geared towards a more gruff delivery and the melody and twin guitar found here is most closely related to that particular era of the band. "Amok" just had those big, wicked, melodic parts with the strange bass lines. Embraze does this and does it well, carrying through with a fabulous work filled with diversity and innovation. While fast cuts like "My Star" and "Sinmaker" carry on that classic heavy metal vibe, other songs like "Beautiful Death" and "Subzero" keep a Moonspell type of pace, never really getting as dull as Billy Idol but still keeping a fresh gothic stance. The band seems to display an amazing ability to simply rock, with a big dose of creepy hard rock injected into "Fear" and "Calm And Distant", both cuts filled with huge riffs backed by drummer Illka Leskel's amazing AC/DC type hands.
If you are a fan of the more gothic natured heavy metal, then look no further than Embraze. This is an important band in my opinion, one that will slowly but surely be looked at in the same light as Paradise Lost, Lake Of Tears, Sentenced, Cry Havoc, and even Moonspell. I think it is simply fabulous that the band have created this type of record, an enjoyable yet moody piece that is just captivating and mesmerizing. Crash Music has a BIG winner on their hands here, with Embraze really just getting started. Now that they have your attention, they can start the show.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details