Blind Stare is a sextet from Finland who play a “symphonic” style of Melodic Death Metal. This is their second album, and the first of theirs that I have listened to.
There is a lot to like about this album. First of all, there are the vocals of Eino Tuominen and Jaakko Lehtinen. Eino, the primary vocalist, provides the harsh vocals, which are emotive, dynamic and fairly easy to understand. Jaakko provides the clean vocals, which are surprisingly strong considering the style of music this band plays. I actually would have preferred to hear much more of him on this album, not because Eino is in any way a bad vocalist, but because Jaakko is good, and because the addition of his cleans add such a distinctive flare to the music. [edit: Eino and Jaakko share clean vocals 50/50, source]
Another major highlight is keyboardist Tuomas Riihimäki, whose grandiose swells and swirls add majesty and motion to the music. He even tosses in a couple of flashy solos for good measure.
Then there are the guitars, which are just as good. There are a ton of great solos and lead riffs that are played with character and flare. The rhythm guitar has some good riffs too, but mostly it just fills in the mid range while the lead instruments dance around above it, which makes sense considering how much is going on in these songs. Similarly, the bassist modestly sticks to roots down at the bottom of the ensemble, although he does get a couple of chances to shine.
Last, but not least, there is the dynamic and charismatic drumming of Timo Palokankare. Everyone on this album just sounds like they’re having a blast playing this music. The performances help to cut through the boring production and give life to a generally mid-paced collection of songs.
The songs themselves are quite interesting. While I wouldn’t really call this a Progressive album, the band covers a lot of ground in fairly conventional song lengths, shifting between a myriad of grooves and tonalities while still maintaining a cohesive musical narrative. They’re pretty catchy, too… Most of them, anyway. I find “The List” to be rather boring, and closing track “Legion of Lost Minds” doesn’t deliver quite as strongly as it should.
The Dividing Line is an exciting album that borrows from just about every style of Metal in existence and thus should appeal to fans from all across the genre’s spectrum. It’s an exciting effort by a talented band and I am happy to recommend it.
Album: The Dividing Line
Released: July 27, 2012
Label: Inverse Records
Score: 8/9 Hammers