Crime Records

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Whispered - Shogunate Macabre review

Band: Whispered
Album: Shogunate Macabre
Label: Redhouse Finland Music Publishing
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Country: Finland
Release Date: 7th Feb 2014

If you selected a track at random, depending on which one you chose, you would be forgiven for thinking that you're listening to either a Children Of Bodom or a Septic Flesh album. At first. But then comes the Eastern instrumentation and this becomes a different beast, entirely. It sounds distinctly Finnish at its heart, but the Eastern melodies add a whole, wonderful new depth and elevate Whispered to a entirely new level. One that is way above their peers. 

I have never heard anything quite like this Finnish act before and I suspect that neither have you. Very odd and very different, but at the same time, bloody brilliant. Despite the underlying and overpowering Eastern feel, I really wouldn't class this as Folk Metal any more than I would, Therion or Nightwish. This is Symphonic Melodic Death Metal with an Eastern slant. 

While it provides a whole new experience when taken as a whole, the influences do clearly shine through. To my ears there are elements of Children Of Bodom, Kalmah, Finntroll, Therion, Dimmu Borgir, Sigh, Septic Flesh and Nightwish among others, but of course, every band has its influences and it is where they take those influences and what they do with them that matters and Whispered perform some kind of wonderful alchemy - The Folk melodies and harmonies are incorporated perfectly into the lead work and riffs and said influences are twisted, blended and mashed to great effect and there is never a dull moment as, just when you think you've got this Oriental thing pegged, they throw in something unexpected to keep you on your toes. 

With incredible musicianship and the virtuoso lead guitar work that is synonymous with the Finns, meeting occasional bursts of off the wall Finntroll / latter-day Nightwish instrumental passages and other-wordly keyboards blending seamlessly with the often strikingly beautiful Eastern melodies, the overall feel is that of a concept album-come-film soundtrack. The important thing for me to stress is that it never feels like a mere gimmick and although the basic idea soon becomes familiar, it doesn't at any point wear thin. Let's face it, not to take anything away from them, as talented as Whispered obviously are, take away the Eastern melodies and they become another run-of-the-mill, forgettable Melodic Death Metal band from Finland. 

Shogunate Macabre is one of the most enjoyable and interesting albums I've heard this or any other year. A new personal favourite and an album that is not only guaranteed to make my end of year 'best of' list, but is also going to be receiving many more spins (can you still say that?) in years to come.

Total Playing Time: 45:20

Overall: 9/10


Hold The Sword
Fallen Amaterasu
One Man's Burden
Lady Of The Wind
Upon My Honor

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