Essence of Sorrow - Reflections of the obscure 3.5/5

Reviewed: 4-27-07


1. Face of death
2. Mind control
3. The essence of sorrow
4. Hollow
5. Supreme oppression
6. Ashes
7. The mirror
8. Trail of tears
9. Come serenity

Essence of Sorrow is a band formed by guitarist Jani Stefanovic (Divinefire), vocalist Christian Palin (Random Eyes) and former Sonata Arctica keyboardist Mikko Harkin. Originally a solo project for Jani, the band's homepage proclaims it evolved into a "full piece band". This debut 'Reflections of the obscure' is from Rivel Records and is a pretty enjoyable Christian melodic power metal CD with a serious edge. I have heard the band described as progressive metal, but in my mind the CD's off kilter staccato riffs harken my mind more to thrash than anything else. I know I heard thrash bands playing riffs like this before I ever heard the likes of Dream Theater. While Palin is the band's official vocalist, it appears the bulk of the vocals on this CD are performed by notable guest Mats Leven (At Vance, Therion). I have to say I prefer the more gritty, powerful vocals of Leven to the smoother fare of Palin, but both guys do a good job.

The CD kicks off with "Face of death", which has an opening riff very reminiscent of Soilwork's "The bringer". This is one of the more melodic songs, and while it's plenty catchy and enjoyable, I prefer the heavier stuff to follow. "Mind control" follows with Leven's rougher vocals and he really reminds me a lot of Jorn Lande on this CD (a very good thing). The title-track is next, and it's one of my favorites since it's one of the faster tracks and has some pretty killer riffs. But, for some reason there are these backing keyboards during the verses that are so high-pitched and whiny they almost border on sounding like feedback. I find it very distracting in a bad way.

The CD continues on with some very catchy songs. As noted earlier, the riffs are the main thing that makes this stand out from other melodic power metal CDs these days. There are lots of heavy, semi-progressive riffs that remind me of some of the better thrash bands of days of yore without ever really getting quite as intense. The band does a good job of varying the tempos between songs, which is always a good way to keep me involved. There are also some nice guitar harmonies to be found which I like. The CD ends with a brooding instrumental called "Come serenity", which is my least favorite track.

This is a nice debut for the band, and I hope they continue as a full-fledged band rather than a side project. As noted earlier, I would prefer they get Leven to do vocals in the future, but Palin is adequate. This is an easy CD to recommend to most of the readers of this site who like melodic, catchy, power metal with more than a little thrash edge to it.




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