"Portals To Uphobia"

(Osmose/The End)

01. Into Sulphur I Descend
02. Portals To Uphobia
03. Structural Deceit
04. Chaos Banished
05. End of Sight, End of Fears
06. Lost Euphoria Part III
07. The Loss of Motion Control
08. Solitude Reflected
09. Beyond the Margin
10. The Source to Delve

RATING: 9/10

When someone says "it's like DARK TRANQUILLITY — only better!" in discussing a fairly unknown band's second album, you either stage an intervention to get 'em off the crack, or you sit down and give said album a good listen. One spin of "Portals to Uphobia" — hell, one listen to the first song — and the truth is revealed… it is like DARK TRANQUILLITY, only better! It's as if someone at Osmose, their old label, unearthed that band's secret lost masterpiece from 1997, the one that was supposed to follow up "The Mind's I".

Not to unfairly label DETONATION as copycats. They're plying the late 1990's strain of dark Gothenburg metal in a much more pure form than any of its original practitioners adhere to today — riffing that is simultaneously melodic, thrashy, and wickedly catchy, harsh vocals, speedy rhythms, ornate second guitar lines over heavy base riffs (listen to "Structural Deceit" for an awesome example of this), soaring solos and well-crafted, intelligently-arranged songs. This is an apex of brutality and pure class combined, a band that can be dynamic and even melodic without descending into pop music or losing the primal, metallic essence that made them special in the first place.

OPETH fans will appreciate DETONATION's progressive bent (check out the similar verse riff and angular beat, plus the lilting guitar run, in "Beyond the Margin", as well as moments of familiarity throughout the album). But DETONATION are much more focused on retaining the thrash and death elements of their sound. They can get pretty when they want to — the instrumental "Lost Euphoria Part III" contains some exquisite classical guitar, and it seems like not a minute goes by without a heartstring-tugging lead — but those flaying blast beats descend directly from some of Scandinavia's most barbaric death and black metal founders (the fact that these guys are from Holland doesn't seem to faze them one bit).

DARK TRANQUILLITY and OPETH are pretty formidable names to toss around, but DETONATION can already hold their own with both. Here's hoping this gets out to the metal masses, because this is one of 2005's best metal masterpieces, and it would be downright criminal if it was ignored.


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