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Medebor : A Taste of Insanity

There is little distraction from the misanthropic, raw, drive of the twin guitars and snarled, hoarse vocals on Medebor's latest.

If Medebor sound somewhat like an old-school Gothic/Death Doom band, it's because that's exactly what they are - despite a brief resume including just one full-length album (2003's 'Phantasma'), the band from Gdansk, Poland have actually been around since 1997. That makes this sophomore 'A Taste Of Insanity', from 2012, a product of some 15 years working together. One might therefore reasonably expect it to have a certain degree of polish and pedigree as a result, and one would not be disappointed in those expectations.

That's not immediately obvious from the Promo-only CDr currently sitting on my desk, which has a decidedly home-made look to its glossy card gatefold with nondescript, blurry cover photograph and a minimum of information within. However, it would appear that, despite some ups and downs with label Legacy Records over the release, paying customers do get a rather better-looking package with proper cover art. Regardless, this first impression - fortunately - does not extend to the recorded content, which is presented as a clear, heavy production, with some nice separation between instruments and voice that lets the listener hear everything which is going on.

That's actually a fair amount, with two guitarists, bassist, drummer and vocalist keeping pleasingly busy throughout, spinning a deft web of variation and interaction that stops short of clutter or over-complication. It picks and chooses recognisable snippets of influence from the genre masters: the Katatonia-esque riff that opens the album and the My Dying Bride sound infusing 'Last Horizon's Awakening' being two immediate examples. Don't get too hung up on that, though: there are just as many nods to the darker side of the Gothic Rock/Metal canon, pitched in the same camp as early EverEve or mid-period Lacrimas Profundere, as with sections of 'Farewell', 'Asleep In Snow' and 'Bleak Memories'. What it doesn't do, at any point, is flirt with the modern-day melodic, symphonic, keyboard-laden view of Gothic Doom - there is little distraction from the misanthropic, raw, drive of the twin guitars and snarled, hoarse vocals save for an occasional acoustic interjection and some cleaner, lilting voice. Not unlike, in fact, a slightly less hatefully angry version of the approach taken by Mindrot and, later, Eyes Of Fire.

That's quite a lot of name-checking, which is perhaps the only weakness in the album: it does bring a lot of older turn-of-the-millennium acts to mind, albeit each only partially. There is therefore a certain sense of familiarity about it all, a feeling that much of it has been heard before somewhere... (in compensation, it must be admitted that the caveat is '...if not all in one place'). That said, it's extremely well-executed, and exciting with it: all the instruments are handled energetically, given their head to contribute dynamic and intricate shifts that add up to a cleverly-woven progression through each track - at an average of around seven minutes each, the pieces are kept tight and focussed. And the anarchic percussion and vibrant, well-featured basslines give it additional well-earned depth and even groove.

So, whilst it might have sounded fresher had it come hard on the heels of the debut rather than nearly a decade on, it's impossible to fault the craftsmanship involved. There again, since it's not a particularly common approach these days, it's quite possible that it'll sound new enough by comparison to many of the contemporary Gothically-inclined works, or at least serve as a reminder to dig out all those older albums and remember how excellent they really were. Either way, there's no denying Medebor are very good at doing what they do, and for that I'd have to recommend 'A Taste Of Insanity'.

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Reviewer's rating: 7.5/10


Tracklist :
1. A Kind Of Chaos
2. Last Horizon's Awakening
3. Torment Of Silence
4. Requiem For The Days Of The Lost
5. Farewell
6. Sorrow, My Infinity
7. Asleep In Snow
8. Bleak Memories

Duration : Approx. 52 minutes

Visit the Medebor bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-01-13 by Mike Liassides
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