Canopy - Serene Catharsis
Disconcert Music
Death Metal
10 songs (52:30)
Release year: 2006
Reviewed by Kayla
Surprise of the month

Last summer I lived in my own apartment for the first time in my young life. In the absence of college dining halls and a refrigerator stocked by my parents, I ended up subsisting on vegetables and ramen. (So much ramen, in fact, that I named my car the Ramenmobile.) However, every few weeks, I would feel the overwhelming need for something solid, meaty and filling. This usually meant it was time to make hamburgers. Listening to the debut album of Canopy, I am unavoidably reminded of sinking my teeth into a healthy slab of meat after weeks of veggies. Serene Catharsis is Swedish-style death metal of the most satisfying kind; solid and mostly straightforward, with just enough melody and progressive touches to keep things interesting.

Most of Serene Catharsis is comprised of thick, mid-tempo riffing that bleeds into brutal, insistent melodies. They know how to keep the shape of the music changing throughout the song without it becoming noodly, and still retain enough straightforward brutality to force the attention of even an unwilling listener. There’s a touch of filth in the production that echoes the deep, rough growl of the vocals and helps with the album’s overall cohesion. However, this filth drops away from the lead guitar, letting it rise up to wrap its melody around the listener’s neck; it’s about as easy to ignore it as to ignore a hangman’s noose. Occasionally the melody takes over, letting the album slide into proggy patches toward the end; the middles of The Bleeding Earth and Subtle are practically Opethian, with keyboard work reminiscent of Patterns In The Ivy. However, Canopy has mastered the art of transition as well as Akerfeldt and the rest of that crew of progressive death metal experts, and the flow of the album is preserved.

By far the highlight of the album is Concentric. Besides the active shifting shape that marks the best of the tracks on Serene Catharsis, I’m a sucker for dual vocals, and the inclusion of a guest vocalist whose growl is a higher, more understandable rasp serves to take the tension built by the main ascending riff and crack it wide open. There’s a little of the same melody in the chorus of the preceding track, Firmament Part II; in this case, it’s just more of a good thing. The opening riff of the closer and title track also deserves mention as one of the most compelling on the album; it’s reminiscent of the riff that pops up in Zyklon’s Psyklon Aeon after the rest, and carries the same insistently brutal energy.

The percussion production is a little strange, however. The snare has that overly-hollow, slightly dead sound that sometimes plagues more cheaply-produced music, but only for the first few tracks; it clears up once you hit Firmament Part I, and proceeds to kick ass until the end of the album. Unfortunately, Firmament Part I is also the only real low point, dragging in tempo and lacking the mutability that the rest of the album has. It’s not quite doomy enough to pull off monotony, especially plopped in the middle of such a changing and innovative piece of death metal.

Canopy is one of those bands that stands in proof that good quality death metal isn’t going anywhere. It’s refreshing and reassuring to see something like this coming from a young band. I predict more good things coming from these guys in the future, and highly recommend their debut to any death metal fan.

Killing Songs :
And Oceans, Concentric, We Are Not To Be Of This World, Serene Catharsis
Kayla quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by Canopy that we have reviewed:
Canopy - Menhir reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Canopy - Will And Perception reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Canopy - Will And Perception (EP) reviewed by Ken and quoted 95 / 100
Canopy - During Day One (EP) reviewed by Ken and quoted 70 / 100
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