Arboreal hails from Port Coquitlam and is a symphonic death metal band. Their newest release, Queenly Remains, was released earlier this year and has 7 tracks in total. From the opening strings and piano track, my ears were intrigued. The piano playing was beautiful and obviously well trained. Standing out to me even once the heavier parts came in. A lot of times the “symphonic elements” get buried once all the guitars, drums, and bass come in but not with Arboreal’s track. The seemingly well-balanced mix of melodic and crushing metal. Even at times I almost had wished for more guitar, the lead work sounds great but sat pretty far back in the mix. Even the chunky rhythm of the bass and rhythm guitar could have been up a bit more to further add to the overall doom feel. The kick was very high in the mix which kept the energy up but I would have loved to see it backed up by the bass and guitar a bit more. The vocals were strong and upfront. A perfect tone of voice for the black dark energy that this album is sending. I could also say it was a little TOO upfront with the guitars being as far behind as they were. It seems at the parts where the vocals weren’t there that the track was emptier than normal.
Aside from a mix standpoint, the album is a great album with lots of melodic ideas, great orchestration, and overall nice writing. I wish it was mixed a bit better and the guitar tones had less of a harsh bite and more of a round feel. They felt a bit thin at times but it did allow all the melodic lead lines to cut through. Its the hard part of having such thick strings/orchestration is that the guitar ends up either being overbearing or underwhelming and finding a good middle point is hard.
Each track on the album has great dynamics. The two interlude tracks (the intro and the 4th song on the album) are nicely done with some great effects to keep your ear engaged. The addition of backing screams with a more black metal touch was really cool to hear and was tastefully placed.
Overall I really enjoyed this album. I know the troubles of balancing so many different layers in a track but just wished it was a little more crushingly heavy that would really make my headbang while listening to the album. I hope to catch these guys playing live later this year!
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