DEADLOCK
"Earth.Revolt"

(Lifeforce)

01. Demonic (Tonus Diabolus)
02. 10,000 Generations in Blood
03. The Year of the the Crow
04. Everlasting Pain
05. Earth.Revolt
06. More Tragedies to Come
07. Awakened by Sirens
08. Kingdom of the Dead
09. May Angels Come
10. Harmonic

RATING: 9/10

What a pleasant surprise "Earth.Revolt" has been. Based on the Lifeforce pedigree, I was expecting another metalcore release. I was dead wrong, as Germany's DEADLOCK has become a serious contender for my Top 10 of 2005 list. The straightedge vegans tackle lyrical themes of worldwide environmental degradation set to music that is heavily rooted in a hybrid of Swedish melodic death metal and modern thrash, tastily flavored with lush keyboard accents and the periodic use of a talented female vocalist (Sabine Weniger). The harsh lead vocals of Johannes Prem could be characterized as a more controlled version of the black metal style without the high-end shriek factor. My only criticism is that Prem's vocals could stand some thickening and be brought out more in the mix. Comparatively speaking (female vocals and goth flavorings aside), the musical style approaches that of DARK TRANQUILLITY with a smattering of symphonic keyboard parts (played by Weniger) that remind one of DIMMU BORGIR.

There is so much here to like that it's tough to know where to begin. Fifty-four minutes of music across 10 songs (the first and last amount to a short intro and outro) would seem daunting to most, but don't be deterred. Even my ADHD-baked brain was engrossed the entire way through, the dynamic arrangements twisting and turning without losing focus, the guitars of Sebastian Reichl and Gert Rymen offering superb harmonies, soaring leads, and crushing riffs. After symphonic keyboard intro, "Demonic (Tonus Diabolus)", "10,000 Generations in Blood" is the first of many compelling tracks that chug hard with potent guitars, and then Weniger's beautiful vocals leap into the mix as an enchanting piano is heard. I was surprised to look up toward song's end and realize eight minutes had passed! A straight-ahead melodic death metal attack with the always-alluring keyboard wash comes next on the up-tempo "The Year of the Crow". The group's knack for building upon each grand passage with a particularly effective melodic lead, harmony part, or a pace changeup amidst the riff barrages is heard on both "Everlasting Pain" and the infectious title track. Up-tempo thrashing is injected with melodic splashes on "More Tragedies To Come", a brief keyboard burst and acoustic closing section enhancing the song dynamics. The unexpected occurs again on "Awakened by Sirens", as Weniger's swooning style on the chorus and select verses provides a striking contrast to Prem's savagery. The mid-tempo crunch of "Kingdom of the Dead" bears some resemblance to Gossow-era ARCH ENEMY, while the 11-minute epic "May Angels Come" serves as the climax before Weniger's charm brings the album to a close with heartfelt singing and piano accompaniment on "Harmonic".

"Earth.Revolt" straddles the line between pure metal aggression and melodic brilliance. Here's to hoping this one doesn't get lost in the shuffle. It deserves to be heard.

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