HEAVENWOOD - Abyss Masterpiece [Review]

Genre: Gothic Metal

Label: Listenable Records

Released: March 14th, 2011

Reviewer: Spiritcrusher

It’s never too late to make an amazing breakthrough. This is probably the most memorable thing that I’ve learned about Portuguese goth-metal band, Heavenwood, after listening to their latest release, Abyss Masterpiece.

Before I begin talking about the album, Heavenwood’s lineup consists of Ernesto Guerra as vocalist, Ricardo Dias on guitars and backing vocals, and Bruno Silva on guitars as well. The album features Pedro Mendes as session bassist and Daniel Cardoso as session drummer.

The album opens up with The Arcadia Order with some pretty exciting and complex orchestrations. (Those will appear frequently throughout "Abyss Masterpiece", and we can thank Dominic Joutsen who has arranged these pieces) From the previous songs I've heard by Heavenwood, this was somewhat unexpected. It was a lot faster, heavier, and the growls are just brilliant. Overall, it's a nice opener.

The song that comes next is Morning Glory Clouds. It opens up with a beautiful choir and comes in as catchy and melodic with great combination of harsh and clean vocals. I think if you like Paradise Lost, you'll really enjoy this. The melodies are memorable and so is the chorus. After I first heard it, I couldn't get it out of my head for a few weeks
" As we delay one day for the morning glory clouds

As we remain in pain for the morning glory clouds "

All the tracks have different influences and sound very different, but it works. Right after this lighter and catchier song comes Goddess Presiding Over Solitude, a song filled with skull crushing riffs, and a beautiful symphonic bridge that works very well. This is one of my personal favorites.

Another one that really stands out is Winter Slave. It opens up and sounds like it would really work in Children of Bodom's Follow the Reaper album! It eventually shows its darker colors with more intense double bass drum beats and heavy riffs, perfectly fit. I think people who don't even listen to darker and more melancholic metal sub-genres will definitely enjoy this song.

Like Yesterday is a song I instantly fell in love with. It's got some nice doom metal influences, and the melodies are beautifully infused, whether it's the lead guitar, the piano, or the excellent vocal harmonies. The guitar solo in the song is soulful and is well done. I also should give credit to the well-written lyrics:

"Like a dreadful sound that will ever last

Forever chained to my past, when everything ́s dying fast

Even if I would be the last to feel it...Like Yesterday"

The last track I'll be covering is my favorite off this album, "Leonor". It is the longest song on the track; 6:35 minutes of sheer brilliance. This song features Miriam Renvag, who has a great voice, and people shouldn't start making references to Nightwish's new singer at this point either. She does a much better job. The orchestrations are brilliant and don't get in the way and blend in with the rest of the music. Ernesto's growls with her singing creates a beautiful clash of personalities in the song. The song has a blend of everything in this album, from crushing riffs to beautiful melancholic melodies.

I enjoyed all the songs off this 12-tracked album, but I felt like some of the songs could have been a bit better. Of course, what defines "good" and "bad" is all subjectivity, but in this case, some of the songs were just amazing that it blew some of the others out of the water. In the end, though, this is a great album.

On a more personal note, this band has been around since 1996, and after reading about their long history (mostly filled with tragedies and unfortunate setbacks), the production of a great album after all this time is very inspirational. Heavenwood are up there with their fellow Portuguese goth band, Moonspell, in my opinion.

Favorite tracks: Leonor, Goddess Presiding Over Solitude, Like Yesterday, Fading Sun

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