Title: Dark Confessions
Label: WormHoleDeath Records
Release date: 26 June 2020
Format reviewed: High-quality Digital Recording
Oxidize formed in the past three years and their debut is a successful exercise in experimentation. Within the confines of melodic metal, the Swedish quintet threw musical ideas from other subgenres against the wall without missing it entirely. Progressive, doom, ballads and power metal elements clearly stuck, helping to make each song on “Dark Confessions” distinguishable.
At each song’s epicenter is singer Anton Darusso, who also fronts the Costa Rican power metal group, Wings of Destiny. Darusso is a tenor whose delivery is reminiscent of Zak Stevens (Circle II Circle) and the late Warrel Dane. Darusso has the special ability to tap into his powerful range without going over the top too much.
Led by a catchy chorus chock full of vocal harmonizing and driving guitar riffs, the single “Bleeding Heart” would have been a readymade hard rock radio hit in the 1980s or 1990s. Its only drawback is that its lyrics are largely cliches smashed together: “I’ve been running out of time, fighting for my life / Caught between heaven and hell.” It’s not the only time Oxidize offers lyrics that rhyme and sound powerful instead of having actual meaning and depth. Every rock and metal band is guilty of using lyrics that are a little too-easily digestible, though; it’s forgivable but can be tedious.
Moving along, there are some standout tracks, such as “Anti Hero”, a battle anthem similarly structured to “Bleeding Heart”. It features Darusso varying between guttural and melodic delivery, complementing the terrific guitar melodies of Niclas Carlsson and founder Per Stålfors. “Revolution” revs up the tempo a bit and is one of the more aggressive racks. With a mesh of searing vocals, downtuned guitars and ferocious drumming with thrash-style precision, the song plays like a Nevermore deep cut.
Oxidize features members and ex-members of Freternia, Crystal Eyes and Arctic Void, which is probably why they sound like a veteran metal band with a vast discography. This album is ideal for those who like a little extra variety in their slightly-darkened traditional and power metal. Despite the room for improvement in their lyrics, Oxidize exemplifies why listeners should hear “Dark Confessions” at high volume. 8/10 Justin Smulison
8/10 To Greatness and Glory!
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