REVIEW: Leviathan – Beyond The Gates Of Imagination Pt. 1

Band: Leviathan (DE)
Album: Beyond The Gates Of Imagination Pt. 1
Release: 2011
Label: Twilight Vertrieb
Genre: Progressive melodic death metal

Leviathan is such a common band name that you might not be expecting much originality from this up-and-coming band, but you’d only be half-right. While they’re not groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination, Beyond The Gates Of Imagination Pt. 1 is not an album to be dismissed based on unoriginality. Its execution borders on perfect, serving the listener a balanced dish of progressive folk-laden melodic death metal, taken from mostly Finnish cuisine despite the band’s German origins, and drawing from Kalmah, Wintersun, Bodom with a smidgeon of Disillusion, although those aren’t the only flavors included.

The “Prologue” is almost a song in itself, introducing the main chefs songwriters in quick succession until the full band swing into metal action, including some cool tapping work from Dahs. The song then closes on an acoustic note, before the next track sweeps in with the echoes of waves against the shore. “Beneath A Blackened Sky” sounds like a keyboardist’s wet dream (namely Gocht’s, even if Reisenauer orchestrated the pieces) in the beginning with its medieval overtones but the main texture is something akin to Wintersun crossed with Kalmah, right down to the rhythm section of Parke and Heinz. However, the genres don’t stop there, as power metal creeps in on “Where Light And Death Unite”, and the sheer madness that is “Servants Of The Nonexistent” veers between pagan-like folk and blackened death.

There are a handful of constants in the album, chief among them being Reisenauer’s hoarse scream, which is employed tactfully, and far from overbearing as is the case with some other bands in this genre. Mercifully, Leviathan avoid limiting themselves to this sole vocal trick, also using folky cleans of both genders to great effect on the catchy “The Scourge We Wield”. BTGOI sports reliably strong solos on each track from the two guitarists, and an acoustic section on most tracks that almost threatens predictability, but closely escapes. Furthermore, there are several moments of piano dropped in, particularly on the final track, an epic entitled “Sway Of The Stars”. They lower the intensity somewhat, but that feels required when considering the high caliber drive at the end of the track, before a tinkling acoustic brings the ride to a leisurely close.

If I had to dock points on this album, it purely comes down to this: the influences permeating BTGOI are challenging to ignore. Even the solos have a certain ‘eau de Malmsteen’ about them. That said, don’t let this minor quibble put you off the experience as a whole, as the album itself is an appetizing platter. In the long run, if you are fans of the style of music that Wintersun, Kalmah and Disillusion are serving, then BTGOI should be familiar turf to you. Treading over this ground is hardly an arduous process though, and Leviathan execute it so damn well that I cannot help but recommend this meal album.

Rating: 8.75/10

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