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Sentenced - Shadows Of the Past
Review: Where Sentenced are known for their delicate melodies and intricacy of song structure, this is more conventionally styled death metal with the object being heavy rhythm with a sublime harmony in the style of thunderous Swedish bands. Not as complex as "North From Here" this music languishes more in the style of "Left Hand Path" from Entombed or any of the older Swedish gods (Therion, Carnage, Dismember) as if done by a younger and less experienced version of Sentenced.
Percussive power chord instantiations of riffs from heavy metal and before, stretched to fit a narrow yet intricate space of arrangement, resound throughout the traditional structures and songwriting of popular music to emphasize central tone and the enduring breakdown of distorted sound. A good portion of this material shows its age, both in the time and the musical maturity of the group. This is most evident in the phrasing, which, like many contemporary death metal phrasing, builds a pattern and then either repeats it backwards (three intervals up, same three back down) or creates a recursive response to it, inverting the structure and adding a harmonic resolution. The complementary nature of riffing in this work gives it a calming aura but often too much symmetry to generate motion other than an undercurrent of tides.
Underground death metal of the time utilized extremely basic divisions of rhythm and scale and Sentenced at this stage are no exception, weaving their melodies within variations of seemingly trivial level to produce an overarching phenomenon of phrase shape and tonal equivalence. Often when they do this, too much of the heavy metal influence bleeds through and promising death metal lapses into pop music, yet for the most part it maintains a relevance through the consistent dynamic of rock with the sliding textures of metal covering it. In this pursuit the evolutionary work of Sentenced from rhythmic death metal to a fuller implementation of their melodic ambitions is chronicled.