"Until Fear No Longer Defines Us"

By Earthdog

I have just been reading an article on the stale black-metal scene and how most of what you hear in that genre is just recycled second-rate fodder that barely gets above average. The same can be said for certain elements with the doom-metal scene, mainly the death-doom, funeral-doom, post-rock doom, and goth-doom scenes. These sub, sub genres are the main culprits when it comes to recycling ideas and before you all leap through your computer screens bitching about all the Black Sabbath clones within the stoner, sludge doom scenes, let me clarify the situation. I think it is fair to say I hear more new doom that the average doomster out there and I can say 100%, without any shadow of a doubt, there are more bands ripping off the likes of My Dying Bride, Swallow The Sun, Katatonia, Paradise Lost, Cult of Luna, Neurosis and Isis to name a few than any other bands out there. The extent to how much these bands are copied varies from band to band but it has gotten to the point where if I hear another band that sounds like one of these bands, I will have to return the CD and refuse the review and believe me, I have done that before already.

 Now this will upset some of you but quite frankly I don't think any of the bands mentioned above were ever that good anyway and certainly not good enough to count as an influence except for perhaps a very small minority of bands. So anyway, this long-winded intro rant does lead somewhere: a review for Ghost Brigade's "Until Fear No Longer Defines Us" album which is thankfully better than most but...yes, you guessed it... follows the Katatonia, My Dying Bride, Swallow The Sun, Paradise Lost blueprints to the letter.

This band from the great land of Finland are exceptional players, that becomes obvious within minutes of this album starting. But what also becomes obvious is this is melancholic doom metal mixed with post-rock progressiveness but without experimenting at all, really. While the musicianship is very good, songs are horribly predictable, so much so that I started playing a game with myself while listening to this - "guess the riff, tempo, and mood change," and I got it right 95 percent of the time. There are not many, if any surprises at all on 'Until Fear No Longer Defines Us.' There is the usual death - clean- death vocals, the post-rocky, thick riffing of the Neurosis, Cult of Luna kind of variety, and the atmosphere of sadness and despair. Lyrically speaking; the words and singing don't do the atmosphere any favors either. The lyrics here are not great and they are sung in a very awkward style. The way some words are pronounced is a little irritating and it does make some of the melancholy seem strained and unnatural. The clean vocals have more of the spotlight than the growls on the album and that in itself is another problem because when the harsh vox come into play, they seem out-of-place most of the time. A lot of the music is characterized by this kind of unsystematic song-writing..everything seems a bit hit or miss. However, the album is well-balanced between the melancholic tracks such as 'Divine Act Of Lunacy' and 'Cult Of Decay and the more straight-forward death-doom of tracks like 'Clawmaster' and 'Breakwater' so it does flow remarkably well.

The album's redeeming feature is the stunning musicianship; songwriting issues aside, this band can play exceptionally well. There are also several stunning passages within songs - the chilling atmosphere of 'In The Woods,' the chorus in 'Divine Act of Lunacy' and 'Soulcarvers', a track where the doom, death, and post-rock hybrid works 100 percent. This is a doomy album but with plenty of rock sensibilities to make it very accessible to the average listener, even ones not familiar with doom-metal. The first half of the album is stronger than the second half but is still a fairly consistent album ( even though it is pretty generic ) and the production is excellent. Guitar players, Tommi Kiviniemi and Wille Naukkarinen are very impressive but it comes back to songs and at least half of the 10 songs are ordinary and generic at best. Fans of the bands mentioned in my opening rant will dig it but this style is wearing extremely thin for me now.......6/10.