There aren’t too many of the good early 2000’s melodeath/metalcore bands remaining but, if I’m being ignorant and missing a few good ones, then they should just be releasing better music. The precarious balance between At The Gates-worship and the clinical edges of modern metal was too much for most to handle, and there aren’t so many bands digging into the ATG/Carcass riff bank for inspiration these days. Blame Meshuggah or Periphery, depends how far back you want to place the blame. Climate of Fear clearly enjoy the riffs of the former duo, but their debut LP doesn’t fall into pastiche or parody, for the most part. Read on and find out how/why/where/what/who.
The Onset of Eternal Darkness is every bit as weighty as it’s title. The tracks are given more than ample time to linger on those cool widdly licks at the end of every four bars of melodeath chugging, often coming back around to early riffs and either slowing them down, or changing the feel – opener “Rapture” clocks in at a cumbersome five minutes plus, but the refrain and return to the opening piano motif saves the track from outstaying it’s welcome. Other tracks don’t necessarily have the same cycle, getting lost in the abundance of riffs that get squeezed in – looking at you “Shadow & Flame”, no matter how tight those triplets are, the track needs chopped up. Thankfully, it isn’t just At The Gates who come to mind. Climate of Fear employ some Morbid Angel paced riffing (“Centuries of Torment”) and, my favourite, The Black Dahlia Murder adjacent theme building (the pleasantly welcome instrumental “De Conflictu Noctis Aeternae Obruat”).
It makes sense that Climate of Fear don’t sound like most of the bands employing the same sort of tools, as their members belong to hardcore and almost rap(almost)/metalcore projects Desolated and Cold Hard Truth. The cocksure grooves and mega micro-aggressions that pepper The Onset of Eternal Darkness could only exist coming from bands that bully, rather than bludgeon. The thin line between proto-metalcore and hardcore also ceases to exist when the band drop gang vocals into tracks that really shouldn’t have them in, but it’s a risk worth taking. Along with some comically long divebombs and risk-free lead work (Michael Amott won’t be shaking in his boots listening to the solos on this one, it has to be said), the potential tedium of Riff A>Riff B>Riff C>Riff A isn’t allowed to fester. It might be a stretch to call the record either melodeath or death metal, with such a hardcore influence behind the curtains and on stage, and a lack of actual melody altogether in some of the weaker tracks.
All in, The Onset of Eternal Darkness evokes the early American melodeath movement with a suitably sharp-dressed British twang. The Scandinavians won’t be asking for their riffs back, because they won’t want to get their heads kicked in.