There is more to Norway and Scandinavia than frostbitten Black Metal, frozen riffs, corpse paint, Skiing, Viking landmarks and breathtaking fjords? Hailing from Fredrikstad in South East Norway are Meltdown, a five piece comprising guitarists Jorgen C. Hansen and Tor Audun Johansen-Sorli beside vocalist Stephan Hay, drummer Hans-Jacob Silvery and bassist Morten Nilsen who have gone all out for their sophomore album. The follow up to “Answers” entitled “Deadringer” which features cover artwork by Killswitch Engage bassist Mike D’Antonio was also mixed and mastered by the legendary Fredrik Nordström at Studio Fredman in Gothenburg, Sweden (Architects, At The Gates, In Flames). Says guitarist and founding member Jørgen C. Hansen: “This album combines what this band is all about: tons of heavy riffs, hard-hitting and bone-crushing metal, and melodies on top of it. The songs are really strong and represents the great chemistry of our line-up. We wanted the best person to capture our sound in the mix and master, and we got it with Fredrik Nordström. He did an excellent job. We also wanted great artwork for the cover and other band-related stuff. We hired Mike D’Antonio in Killswitch Engage because he obviously understands our music and what we want, being a very gifted artist.”
Meltdown are a band that don’t want to be held to a genre other than Metal and throughout the album there are an interesting set of style blends. Opening cut “Walls Down” sees vocalist Stephan Hay move from a throat shredding unclean vocal that isn’t too far away from that of early career Phil Labonte of Shadows Fall and All That Remains fame, while his cleans during the chorus aren’t too far away from Light The Torch vocalist Howard Jones in their soaring beauty. Mike D’Antonio must have done a double take when hearing the album and it’s no wonder that the band felt he understood their music. As opening tracks go, it’s a powerful statement piece with its roots in classic Metal via Metalcore and slick modern production. “Who Am I” follows similar patterns with a ripping unclean verse and beautiful clean chorus. Injecting more melodic music behind the cleaner vocals without slowing down the pace confirms they have the style down, while the contrast between the two vocal styles is so far apart it’s like they have a pair of frontmen. Title track “Deadringer” has a thunderously brutal vocal performance as the tale unfolds. Nordström has done the band proud with an incredible drum sound throughout the album that is particularly evident on this cut. Adding in a lead flourish that isn’t too overpowering means that the pummelling rythmic groves aren’t lost while the dead are called to rise from their graves. “Bleeding” cuts a bit more introspection in the lyrics with a sing-a-long quality chorus that works well against the heavier riffs and when it comes to the skull crushing breakdown, it’s second to none.
The second half of the album starts with “World Unseen” which has a slick lead flourish to bring in the opening verse. Switching the vocal parts over so you get clean verse and unclean chorus, it should be perhaps titled “Devoured by Light” as it’s a more prominent part of the lyric. You’d struggle to say that Meltdown were from anywhere except Boston Massachusetts if you caught this track on the radio or TV. “Conspire” doesn’t take any risks, instead building on the foundations of the earlier tracks for the most part but what makes it is a couple of throaty black growls over a mid tempo breakdown section. “Safe Haven” sees Hay talk of coming back to the place that he calls home because let’s face it, a Dorothy said “there is no place like home”. Hay’s depiction of the raging waters is accompanied by some classical guitar work and thunderous kit work. If it wasn’t for the brutal uncleans in places it could easily be a radio anthem. “Senses Overload” roars out of the gate at breakneck speed with an adrenaline rush of energy. It maintains the ebb and flow of the album that holds together as a neat package tied with a bow by bringing all the elements that make it together for one final furious crescendo. The clean verse is anthemic, the stompy breakdown venomous and the final galloping rush to the finish line. Gold. [7.5/10]
Who Am I
“Deadringer” by Meltdown will be released on 25th October via Rambo Music/Fifth Island Music AB/Sony Entertainment AB