MAZE OF TORMENT - The Force (CD 1997)
While listening to Harmony's "Summoning the Past" recently, I realized that I have not played anything from Maze of Torment for a long time. So, it was about time to remind myself about this band. And the first CD I picked up from the dusted shelf was their debut album "The Force". It was released in 1997 and it's their first recording since the change of the name from Harmony to Maze of Torment. I still like this album a lot, I have to say, it may even be my favourite Maze of Torment record, although let's be honest - this band was always quite mediocre for the Swedish death / black metal scene. They never belonged to my favourites also, but I enjoyed to listen to their music occasionally. And this is definitely one of the finest recordings from Maze of Torment.
If I was going to be strongly critical towards "The Force" then I would probably call it less exciting version of Dissection or . Stylistically Maze of Torment had a lot in common with these two, but maybe they had a bit more thrash metal mixed into their music, a bit similar maybe to another Swedish band, Merciless. What I like about "The Force" though is that many of the riffs, which are on this album, are melodic, but the music doesn't lack that aggressive and vicious factor. Maze of Torment tried not to sound dull and they did succeed, in my opinion, because the on this album is damn good and for sure it has improved a lot from their days as Harmony. So, melodic or not, this is still quite savage and vicious stuff, with nice sharp and aggressive riffs, killer croaky screams of the vocalist Pehr Larsson (guy, who's also been involved in the recording of "Welcome to my Last Chapter", one of my favourite Swedish albums ever!). And the atmosphere is dark and cold, very alike to the early Dissection albums. Or . I mentioned this band here, because Maze of Torment can easily be mentioned among the great melodic death / black metal bands from Sweden from the late 90's, along also Unanimated, and few more. And believe me, "The Force" is as good as all these killer albums from these other bands, in my opinion, so if you like this sort of melodic but harsh and aggressive death / black metal, then this is another album for your collection.
"The Force" is filled with good songs like "Shapeless in the Dark", "Dream of Blood", "Brave the Blizzard", with all these killer, memorable riffs and great vocals. I also have to say that I like the production from Studio, it truly fits that dark and vicious ambience of the music. Dan even played keyboards and guitar leads in two songs, if that means anything to you. So, it was good feeling to listen to Maze of Torment again, after such a long time. I was afraid that "The Force" grew old badly, but it didn't, it still sounds aggressive and great. I would love to see it released on vinyl, to be honest.
Standout tracks: "Shapeless in the Dark", "Dream of Blood", "Brave the Blizzard", "Land Unknown"