MIDGARD: Satellite (2012)

Midgard Satellite Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

–MIDGARD: Satellite (2012)

The Colorado heavy metal scene will always hold a special place in my heart. As an impressionable young college student in Denver and insatiable heavy metal maniac, I was proud to be both a participant and observer of the musical mayhem that came out of that scene in the late 1990s. All the wonderful concert memories return to me in the haze of flashbacks, as do the plethora of band names: Psyco Drama (Colorado Springs’ own), The Quiet Room, Jag Panzer, Silencer, Leviathan, Iron Fortress, Titan Force, Cold Moon, Rogue, Corruption, Esovae, etc. etc. And how could one fail to mention my college buddy Andrew’s guitar teacher, who we saw perform in some little club with his progressive metal trio Industrial Eden. Yes, I am talking about Megadeth’s Chris Broderick.

I left the marvelous madness of Denver for my hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich. at the tail end of 1999, the year before another college and heavy metal friend of mine, Alex Shalenko, formed his band Midgard. His merry band of melodic death metallers released two eps and performed at the 2002 Milwaukee Metalfest before splitting up in 2005 due to musical differences. But the heavy metal bug never forsook Shalenko, who reformed Midgard in 2011 with the aim of releasing their first full-length album. That goal became a reality on December 15th, 2012, with the release of Satellite, an absolute triumph in melodic extreme metal.

Midgard band photo

One aspect of Midgard’s sound that immediately strikes the listener is how it seamlessly blends melody and aggression in a heavenly headbanging cocktail of thrash, black metal and melodic death metal. This isn’t a bunch of tuneless hardcore riffs that alternate with sing-songy pop melodies in the choruses, a tedious and contrived formula that has been so commonplace in the melodic extreme metal scene of the past decade. On Satellite, the melody is an integral part of the fabric of all the songs, so whether a song’s section features mellow arpeggiated guitar lines or rapid palm-muted thrash riffs, the sense of beautiful melody is omnipresent in the sound. As for Midgard’s sound, think blisteringly speedy yet hyper-melodic guitar riffs, pummeling drum parts, fluid and tuneful guitar leads, and versatile vocal stylings that range from raspy grunts to low growls and mid-range clean singing. For a point of reference, I hear a lot of the early ‘90s melodic death metal scene from Scandinavia, particularly the speed of early Sentenced, the guitar harmonies of In Flames, and Dan Swano’s the atmospheric groove of Edge of Sanity. Midgard also lists At The Gates, Carcass, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Dark Tranquillity, Fear Factory and others as influences, and they all leave subtle impressions on Midgard’s music.

Choosing favorites on Satellite is no easy task because the general level of songwriting is comparably high. Album opener “Empire” delivers a mid-tempo wall of majestic guitar harmonies that set the tone (and bar) for the rest of the record. The title track and “Until the Sirens Call” reward the listener with tuneful speed and crushing groove, while “As the Phoenix” offers mournful opening arpeggios as the summons for a devastating speed metal fest. “Winter Assault” is an assault indeed of 2,000 rpm galloping Maiden-esque riffs and triumphant guitar melodies, and the folky acoustic guitar intro to “Absolute Zero Heart” paves the way for absolute infectious melancholia. My personal highlight: The brutal, palm-muted devastation and sinister atmosphere of “Waves of Acheron.”

Midgard hails from Denver, Colorado, U.S.A. But Satellite is an outstanding 2012 heavy metal record of international caliber. Please pick up the album on Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/satellite/id581942189, Bandcamp: http://midgard.bandcamp.com, or http://www.midgardmetal.com/Store

Midgard is: Alex Shalenko (Vocals/Guitar), Travis Boylls (Guitar), Jenn Boylls (Bass), Ryan Willis (Drums).

–Tracklisting: 1). Empire 2). Satellite 3). Until the Sirens Call 4.) As the Phoenix Falls 5.) Winter Assault 6.) Absolute Zero Heart 7.) Oracle 8.) Waves of Acheron 9.) Hellfire 10.) If

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~ by jonnyboyrocker on December 19, 2012.

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