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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Mortal Love

Forever Will Be Gone

Review by Gary Hill

Take a healthy dose of Lana Lane. Add in a big helping of Queenryche. Fold in a heaping cup full of Evanescence. Then mix in smaller amounts of Nine Inch Nails and Cradle of Filth. Mix until fairly uniform. That’s the recipe for Mortal Love’s Forever Will Be Gone.

Mortal Love is a Norwegian band and this is apparently the third disc in a trilogy about a tragic love story. The music here is accessible and powerful. There is a dark beauty and powerful majesty to it. They seem to use equal amounts of male and female vocals. You really can’t fault any song here as being weak. The only real problem is that the group’s songwriting is a bit formulaic. The vast majority of the music here uses a pattern of mellow verse and heavy chorus. That combined with a general lack of variety in the timing of much of the music, tends to make it all blend together a bit. Still, this music is so good that’s only a minor complaint. And they do manage to break out of their self-made box here and there. This is an excellent disc for fans of dark metal with epic stylings. It doesn’t quite make the jump to greatness, but it’s darned good.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
I Make the Mistake
Opening a metal album with a ballad is not that common. Of course, this isn’t completely balladic, but it definitely is close to an epic power ballad motif. It begins in a very sedate and melancholy, yet quite beautiful, balladic style. After a whispered, “now close your eyes,” we get a crunchy reincarnation of the song’s central theme. This holds it for a time, and then they drop away to a sparse and mellow sound with a stuttered, whispered vocal line. After this they power it back out to the heavier take on the central song structures to carry it forward. The stuttered section returns after this, but with the vocals sung rather than whispered and more power on the musical arrangement. They carry forward by repeating themes we’ve heard. We get a tasty guitar solo and then they drop it way back to an intricate and mellow instrumental section. This gives way to a powerhouse metal roar – complete with a vocal roar and then they move it out into crunchy prog territory. It drops back to nearly classical sedate elements to end.
Of Keeping the Fire Down
This powers in with a more traditional metal sound, but it still has lot of epic power metal symphonic elements in the arrangement. They drop it back to nearly atmospheric (and quite dark) textures for the first vocals of the track. They work through by building it up a bit and creating a duet of male and female voices. This then powers out even more for the chorus. When they drop back down it’s not as far down as before and this time the vocals are female rather than the male ones that drove the first verse. They build up these themes and work through variants on them as they carry forward. Around the two and a half minute mark it drops way back down for a rather proggy ballad section. Then they power out into some great instrumental jamming that’s again quite progressive rock like.
While Everything Dies
Keyboard textures bring this in with an almost prog sound. They power it out to some dark, gothic metal from there. When it moves to the song proper it’s much along the lines of something from Lana Lane. They shift out after the verse to the keys that started things and when the gothic sounds return to carry the next vocal movement it’s obvious that we’re in another repeating pattern. The Norwegian vocal sections that show up here and there remind me a bit of a more epic metal reading of Rammstein concepts. We are treated to a quite symphonic European instrumental section. Then a new motif is created by a less dominant guitar segment with female vocals gently placed over the top. They move this back out into the song proper from there. This doesn’t remain long, though, instead serving to end the piece.

My Shadow Self
This comes in tentatively and rather moody, but quickly shifts out into more typical metal territory. They drop it way back for the vocal segment. In what is rapidly becoming a pattern the mellower verses are accompanied by a harder rocking chorus section. This is a cool tune, but the formula is beginning to wear a bit thin and feeling rather cookie cutter.
In The End Decides
I love the dramatic, neo-classical elements that create this piece. The processed spoken vocals make for a nice change of pace. It reminds me a bit of a more epic metal take on something from Queensryche’s Empire album. At just under three minutes this is the shortest track on show here. It’s also a well needed alteration to the sound of what we’ve heard so far. This is moody and pretty. The latter segments of the track have an almost techno rhythmic structure with a very pretty arrangement over the top. It’s a great touch.

To Choke You Now
They don’t really break the mold here, moving back to the familiar mellow verse, harder rocking chorus pattern, but this one seems to work better than some of the other tracks. I think part of that is due to the meatier symphonic heavy section and part is due to having the short break that “In the End Decides” gave us. Whatever the reason, this is one of the strongest tracks on show here.
So I Betray the Mission
This one has a bit of a different approach than the rest of the disc. It has more of a dark techno feel to it. They still alternate between the mellower verses and harder rocking choruses, but the delivery is rather refreshing. This is another track that reminds me a bit of Queensryche at times.

Still It Has Only Just Begun
Here we’re back into the formulaic. This one has its moments, but frankly it’s too much like the rest of the CD and doesn’t have enough oomph to put it on the same level.
As We Cannot Be One
This classically tinged and quite pretty instrumental is a great change of pace.
Forever Will Be Gone
The longest song on the disc, this is also the most powerful. It’s a pretty common trend in this type of metal to put an epic number as the closer and they don’t break from that tradition. This is the most dynamic and potent track on show here. It sort of takes the varying elements of the rest of the disc and turns the volume up to 11. The classical tendencies here are quite astounding at times. The keyboard solo near the end is great as is the powerhouse metal outro that it heralds.
 
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