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Sentenced - North from Here

1992 Spinefarm Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-08

It's really hard to believe that Sentenced was once more influenced by Atheist than latter day Metallica, but all one has to do is to go back and listen to North from Here to believe me. Featuring some of the most bizarre and complicated time changes in metal since Unquestionable Presence, North from Here runs through it's playing time as a possible precursor to the whole melodic movement known as the "Gothenburg Sound". A champion album, one that I'm surprised is not mentioned in the same breath as Believer, Atheist or Cynic's great works.

Sentenced - Amok

1994 Century Media Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-08

And here the first major change appears, Sentenced forsaking all that is techinical to produce more melodic and accessible music. If anything though, Amok is the perfect transition between NfH and the pompous (but good!) extravaganza that is Down. There's still some double bass left in here. as well as Jarva's raspy powerful vocals. Still a little rough around the edges in terms of what the band was trying to do, Amok nonetheless forms a pretty good idea, one which is followed though to death on the next few albums. Definitely worth checking out.

Sentenced - Love and Death

1995 Century Media Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-08

Changing faces once more, Love and Death is sort of a midrange album between the power of Amok and the catchy sap that makes up Down. Not the biggest fan of EPs, Love and Death is one of those few documents that is worth owning, for it bridges the gap between the two LPs nicely, while also giving forth 4 killer new tracks (with throwaway cover of Billy Idol's White Wedding as well). Opener The Way I Wanna Go, Dreamlands and Closer Love and Death show some of the commercial aspects of the band, while keeping some of the older darkness. Only track Obsession (penned by Jarwa) harkens back to their earlier work. 21 minutes, but as I said, worth it for the Sentenced fan.

Sentenced - Down

1996 Century Media Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-08

Listening to Down, many references to Metallica come to mind. Both bands have vocalists that sound like James Hetfield, and both have progressed amazingly since their breakthrough releases. Fortunately for us metalheads, Sentenced still keep their heart in the music, fusing a commercial feel with values straight from the underground. Everything about this album is polished, from the gold leaf cover to the Woodhouse Studios Production, showing the time and dedication these guys have. The new vocalist does have Hetfielditus, but he complements the music so well, allowing each track to swell to immense proportions. Master songwriters, the whole album just flows, and is actually quite an emotional piece of work. Lyrically, every track deals with despair, and suicide, sort of a concept record, as the entire process of someone ready to end their life is recorded (you can hear the "click" at the beginning and the gunshot at the end of the record) with the ending track closing their life. Not as depressing as it could have been though, as the songs work more to elevate than anything else. A truly monumental piece of work, Down is a master achievement by one of the premiere hard rock bands out there today. You can't go wrong with this, highly recommended.

Sentenced - Frozen

1998 Century Media Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-08

In 1996 Sentenced released Down, heralded worldwide as their finest work to date. Down was the end result of creative forces culled from opposite ends of the universe which managed to merge into one of the finest metal releases of the year. All eyes (and ears) were then directed towards the impending follow-up. Knowing some of the history of Sentenced, it is safe to expect another massive evolutionary leap in sound and direction (witness North from here to Amok, Amok to Down). The only evil portent was the lack of the "transitional" E.P . that would give some inkling as to their future direction. Lo and behold, Frozen was unleashed to the waiting masses. An apt title, we find Sentenced again breaking their trends, only the irony here is that they have done this by transforming change to consistency. On this opus, Sentenced seem more focused, grounded. The roots that were set on Down are deeper here, the themes revisited. Suicide, the dark side of love, despair, all similar paradigms for lyrical form which encompass and overwhelm the listener. Not nearly as majestic as Down, nor as gritty as Amok, Frozen glides you effortlessly through hints of light jazz, heavy riffs, and Ville Laihiala's gentle Hetfield croon which is the siren song for a ride across the river Styx. Appropriate use of female vocals again, which adds rather than suffocates the song. Interestingly enough, it's on the instrumental tracks where the overall feel of the album is raised. The opening song is probably the most dynamic on the album, which unfortunately means that the segway to track 2 seems forced. The end result is another masterwork which may only be given a notch down from the 10 it probably deserves due to the reason that I feel as though I've heard most of this before, and it it just one hell of a depressive, of which I find enough in everyday life. I'll give it this, though, once it's on, it's played all the way through to the end.

Sentenced - Crimson

2000 Century Media Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-08

The other night, a friend of mine asked me to play him some older Bolt Thrower, saying that he wanted to hear somethign of theirs that sounded a little different. I just kinda laughed and then proceeded to throw on ...For Victory and The Fourth Crusade back to back. He got the point. Bolt Thrower is a band with whom you can feel secure in expecting an album which hasn't strayed too far from their initial intent. There aren't too many bands around that make you feel that way, but Sentenced is now one of them. Now releasing a fourth album in their "suicidal" style (no, not Cyco Mike), Crimson is more of the same, depressing, sickly sweet sounds of blood and alcohol. The term "Safe as Milk" comes to mind here, for Sentenced chose to keep the formula going, retaining the guitar sound, the almost pop metal vocals, the driving grooves, the lyrical themes. And why shouldn't they, the formula works, and there are much worse out there. So, it's a good album, but like their last opus Frozen, it's not great the way that either Down or Amok are. The fault of this may lie with repetition, or the fact that the sound on Amok was something new, and the addition of Ville Laihiala on vocals added another element to Down. There are some really strong tracks here, such as Broken, which just rage with emotion, but I'm just not as convinced as I once was. Maybe I'm just at a better place in my life. Chalk Crimson up as another strong new era Sentenced release, but aimed for a different type of person than the average metalhead, in my opinion.