Where to begin with Salvation’s End. Their debut album, titled The Divine Wrath of Existence it’s a lengthy feature, epic in its own right and yet still feels like part of a larger scheme. Immediately we are tossed into a world of heavy riffing bordering on death metal influenced with sweet leads out of progpower, rhythmic pounding and gritty vocals in opener Death of Reason to set things off right with a catchy, yet menacing introduction to the world we enter. Expressive, dark and moody, the album portrays a man who does not age and sees the world through different stages, and how history repeats. Sometimes pessimistic, the theme is driven not only by Rob Lundgren’s (Powerdrive, Scientic) vocals, but also by TJ Richardson’s (Halloween) multi faceted guitar work.
While definitely grounded in a progressive sound, with long tracks and shifting beats and compelling hooks, there are levels of power metal in the melodic pieces as well. There is also some melodic death metal influences, showcased in blastbeats and the guitar tone of Richardson, sometimes reminiscent of the likes of Into Eternity. Lundgren, who is most famous for doing cover songs on YouTube, delivers a gritty persona to the mysterious character that wanders the ages. His voice and style here is reminiscent of something around Thomas Winkler (Gloryhammer) - whom Lundgren also replaced for a while in Chinese band Barque of Dante - and Urban breed (Serious Black, ex- Bloodbound). The vocal parts are equal parts melodic to hard edged and are never the sole focal point of the music. Perhaps a few bigger sounding choruses might have been preferential, but the subdued nature and larger build up that the album creates, makes Lundgren a perfect fit. It’s unfortunate that he’s unlikely to appear on a potential follow up.
The best part of the album might just be the beginning; starting off with the aforementioned Death of Reason, the album’s hard hitter immediately follows. Languorem is an intelligent piece driven by fury and mad guitars from Richardson, as well as melodic leads and a heavy, driving chorus. The melody will get stuck in your brain. Toward the album’s latter half, there are a few less interesting tracks. Translucent Memory, which borders on balladry in parts, is the least compelling song on the album; Lundgren doesn’t hold the emotional weight he might should have needed and the overly slow tempo does no favors to the whole, whereas Climb the Cross drags on uninterestingly. They do not affect the whole album overmuch however as it is filled with great tracks such as Crimson Sunrise, evil and brooding with electrifying guitars from Richardson, and the title track closing off on a 10 minute high point.
The Divine Wrath of Existence bridges the worlds of melodeath and progpower, and does so with an innate sense of purpose. As such it should likely appease fans of both genres, as well as sate the needs of power metal fans thanks to Lundgren’s appealing vocals. It’s definitely a hard album to get into – this review has taken longer than I want to admit to get through – but a rewarding one that not only warrants, but requires, multiple listens to fully sink in and let the weight with which it will ultimately loom over the edge sink in.
Standout tracks: Death of Reason, Languorem, Awakening, The Divine Wrath of Existence