Meadows End – The Grand Antiquation

Band: Meadows End
Titled: The Grand Antiquation
Label: Black Lion Records
Release: 08 March 2019
Country: Sweden
Format reviewed: Digital Promo

Another day, another dig around the BAZ storeroom cupboard to see what interesting things there are to review, that needs more exposure and to be brought into the consciousness of extreme metal fans. In some ways, the whole “digging around” process for reviewers can be a chore. and very often we’re spoiled for choice. Nevertheless, a shining gem showed up in the form of Swedish symphonic death stalwarts MEADOWS END; who have released ‘The Grand Antiquation’ which is out now on Black Lion records – available as digital download for the clutter free “Future Bois”, compact disc, and LP with the options of a black, red, or blue pressing.

Incredible as it may seem, MEADOWS END are veterans of the scene that have been around since 1998 with a few demo tapes, 3 EP’s, various tours, and now their fourth studio album. This time around, the album knocks up the symphonic bombast significantly to 4.4 Nightwish Units, which for those who prefer their metal to have minimal synthesizer and keyboard involvement (if any at all) could potentially give the listener sonic diabetes; like attending a coffee shop where you’re bewildered by choices of blueberry and vanilla syrup chocolate soya cream bloody whatever – where you wished you stayed at home, opened a bag of Taylor’s Hot Lava Java and avoided all this messing around in the first place. However, when you hit the play button for the first time and ‘Devilution’ leaps from the speakers the album immediately grabs you by the scruff of the neck with crunchy riffs and latter-day Amorphis-style vocals from Johan Brandberg that’s perfectly balanced, and at the forefront of the music in a commanding manner similar to that of Amon Amarth which works effectively with this style of metal in particular. ‘Nights Bane’ partially harks back to their earlier works that dials back the symphonic levels a touch, but at the same time brings improvements that feel such tracks have a layer of finely honed refinement acting as a shining example of where the band are at today.

The cynics among you may find tracks such as ‘Non Dreaming ‘Eye’ a bit to similar to the latter-day works of Dark Tranquility and too “Generically Euro Metal”, but there’s a distinct magic in such tracks with enough of their own flavor to bring to the table without sounding like absolute plagiarists and drawing lazy comparisons. Tracks such as ‘Her Last Sigh Goodbye’ are signs of the band making steps towards world domination and, dare we say it a “Radio friendly unit shifter” to receive airplay from rock radio programs and weekly podcasts but god damn it, it’s a perfect addictive earworm that will sound fantastic in a live set. ‘The Insignificance of Man’ is particularly rousing and is full of intense guitar riffs that suddenly take an almost Meat Loaf-esque diversion, which lulls the listener into a false sense of security and BAM – back into thundering riffs that will have you air drumming all over the place. To silence the “Yebbut they’ve sold out with this album, maaaan” whiners, ‘I Stilla Vemod Vandra’ is a gloriously stompy number that knocks any such suspicions clean out of the park, acting as a perfect closer.

To conclude, ‘The Grand Antiquation’ is a very solid album from a well-established band that deserves more recognition. The symphonic black and death metal scenes are at the more popular end of the spectrum, and in an ideal world should only be a matter of time before people encounter this one night after binge listening to the likes of latter-day Dimmu Borgir, Arch Enemy, and Dark Tranquility – where streaming services throw up examples of “Like this? You may also like this!” suggestions. In that context in the modern world where we have a raft of music at our fingertips, MEADOWS END’s popularity is ensured and you’ll start to hear even more about these guys, and deservedly so. 8.0/10 Goth Mark

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8/10 To Greatness and Glory
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