Friday, March 24, 2023

Sentenced - The Cold White Light (2002)

The Cold White Light, a.k.a. 'The Blue One' was a nice pivot from the dregs of Crimson, and in fact I'd say even the first five minutes of this album were more memorable than its predecessor in its entirety. Not that this is necessarily one of the stronger titles in the Finns' catalogue, but it benefits from really amazing production that gives the instruments more depth and punch than before, and the songs, while still exceedingly simple, are a lot moodier and catchier. It really seemed around this time that Sentenced were running nose to nose with other Gothic rock and metal bands from their scene like H.I.M., Charon, To/Die/For and Entwine, so you definitely hear a bit of that starting to rub off in Ville's patterns, especially the H.I.M., but at the same time, it adds a little more to his performance, makes it slightly more interesting.

There are points here, like the intro to "Brief is the Light", which are clearly among their most poppy and friendly, but at least they seem like they are headed towards something greater, which is not something I felt myself saying much with the prior album. When they arrive, you often get choruses, like to that song or "Neverlasting" or "Blood & Tears" which are even worthy of appearing on an album like Frozen. The riffs are drawn from the typical bag they'd been using since the late 90s, but there is a little fire lit under them and the more robust production to this album makes even the plainer material have more of an impact. The leads are always effective, if once again simple, and it's arguably Ville's strongest vocal performance, even if he doesn't land lines as sticky as some he had on Down. He is a natural at the dominant Goth rock element, and you could almost interchange him with that other Ville (Valo), who became more popular because of that band's woozy Romanti-Goth marketing and Bam Margera promotions.

In summary, The Cold White Light is what Crimson should have sounded like, it's like they emerged from the bar on a frosty Finnish winter day, and got caught in the glare off the trees and lakes, and remembered that they were once a pretty damn good band...and not even that long ago! It's nothing too special, and there are only 2-3 songs I really find myself returning to on a normal basis, but you could also spin the entire album and feel that it's consistent enough to leave an impact. For a penultimate studio album, it seems like the band had come to its senses and was steering back in the right direction, but taking their time to arrive.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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