The world of melodic metal is a pretty busy one these days, with bands pouring into the spectrum from all countries. The one thing that seems to be a key decision for bands of this style is how much of the classic hard rock vibe they want to incorporate into their sound. Some bands take on a very synth-driven 80's AOR vibe, while others rely very heavivy upon 70's-styled riffs and more soulful vocals. The latter is definitely moreso the case with Sweden's newest export, ColdSpell. If you have found yourself really digging bands with hints of classic Whitesnake or Deep Purple in their sound, this is definitely an album you should give a chance.
"Keep on Believing
" is not quite what you'd expect for an opening song, for rather than kicking in with a bang, it takes things slower, building a more epic atmosphere before launching into some cool riffs and vocals. The first thing that jumps out to me about this band is vocalist Niclas Swedentorp's voice. There doesn't seem to be too many great undiscovered voices left out there, but this guy's got a fantastic set of pipes that remind me a lot of someone, I just can't quite put my finger on it. The chorus of this song is pretty fantastic, very anthemic indeed. The album's second track, "Solid Ground
", is definitely more of what I would've expected from an opening track. A really strong riff and a fantastic vocal performance drive the verses along, making this not only the fastest but also possibly the most enjoyable song on this outing. There's some really cool organ sounds and a strong solo from axe-slinger Michael Larsson. "Raving Mad
" has some really cool grooves to it, but not a whole lot in the hooks/melodies department, so it tends to get a bit lost in the shuffle. "Eye of the Storm
" starts off with some pretty cool acoustic guitar before breaking into a pretty heavy slower riff and more great vocals. The chorus really helps to accentuate the slow blues-rock vibe of the song, and honestly, album on the whole. They keyboards really play a versatile role on this album. As opposed to sticking to one or two sounds/styles, Matt Eklund covers everything from sweeping orchestral strings (as present here), to the aforementioned hammond-style organ. This really helps to give the sound some depth and variety, as opposed to just hammering out the same keyboard stuff on every-other track. The next track's title is bound to continue annoying me and many other native English speakers, as "Straight Things Out
" isn't quite proper grammar, and the song kind of plays into the more forgettable sort of slow-rockin' stuff going on here. It's pretty enjoyable to listen to, but you're not exactly gonna keep coming back to hear some of these songs. "Night Falls
", however, is one of the disc's most memorable and enjoyable tracks - starting off with a slow, melodic, more ballad-esque intro, before kicking into some riffing, a strong chorus, and fantastic vocals throughout.
It is at this point that the band hits their mid-album stride, with a handful of fantastic tracks. The aforementioned "Night Falls", the heavy and groovy "Fade Away
", and the excellent "Greed
". The last of these quite possibly being my favorite track here. The verses take on the typical groove-heavy vibe that most of these songs do, but the band delivers a completely infectious chorus here, which I have gotten stuck in my head for hours on end. This is pretty by-the-books hook-heavy melodic metal, but it delivers and delivers well. More strong vocals and infectious grooves run through the veins of this track, and the instrumental section is among the album's best for sure. "Shot Down
" is pretty solid, but overall falls kinda flat as it lacks a chorus which truly delivers. "All I Want
" is probably one of the more melodic tracks here, and I am definitely reminded of a Whitesnake-sort of vibe here. We see a return of some kick-ass organ on "Surrounded
", as well as more cool lead guitar work. If I could change one thing about this album, I would probably wish for more variety in the style and most of all tempo of the songs, as after a lot of the tracks, it starts to feel like the band are going through the motions. Not necessarily rehashing ideas, just sort of lacking variety in them. Eventually we arrive at the album's grand title track, "Infinite Stargaze
". This is easily the longest song on the disc, and justifies the album's majestic cover artwork. As opposed to a lot of other songs on this album which have strong choruses and mediocre verses or the opposite, this track truly delivers all the way through. The pre-chorus of this song is honestly stronger than a lot of the choruses to be found here, which says a lot of the chorus of the song. As you'd expect, the vocals really carry the sections along, even though they are accompanied by some really cool riffs. It's nice to see a riff-driven band that can still do some cool things, rather than just getting lost in the typical chugga-chugga monotony. In addition to everything else, this track may also feature this album's best guitar soloing, with a lot of variety to boot. The song does well to leave the listener with a sense of satisfaction upon completing the album, a great taste is certainly left in the listener's mouth, so to speak.
All in all this is a very enjoyable listen. If you are a fan of any kind of melodic hard rock/metal, this is definitely worth your time. The band offer more than their share of strong riffs, catchy melodies, and much more mature songwriting than you'd expect from a debut album. 2009 has given me a lot disappointing albums from the bands I like, which has led to me expanding outward and checking out albums from bands I had not previously listened to, and this album was definitely one of them. So I guess I can be happy for that, as this is a very worthwhile offering.