Monday, July 31, 2023

Embracing - Dreams Left Behind (1997)

Ironically, the sophomore Embracing album Dreams Left Behind had slightly superior production to the debut, and in addition I thought that the artwork was also a little better...the band (or label) really likes its purple tones but, hey, that can look flashy with its razor-hone digital logo. That's the thing with a lot of these old Invasion Records releases, there was just this fantastical, dreamy quality to them, even some of the bad ones, which sparks my nostalgia. That said, the mix of this disc is still really weak when compared against many of the other Swedish bands performing in this style, in full froth as it was breaking out all over the world during this period, and while the music here is nothing to really scoff at, it just made me crave a better sounding version of the debut instead...

The volume's a little better with the instruments, from the cleaner strings to the clean vocals which aren't all that good performance-wise, but sound pretty smooth. Piano, synthesizer and other accoutrements are used liberally to contrast against the melodeath moments, which by this point all feel fairly standard and don't have a ton of payoff. In fact, some of the guitar tones in cuts like "Stolen Memories" still feel as if they haven't been mixed so well, a little thicker than on the debut, and not so disturbingly tinny, but neither are they exception. And in other places, like "Killers Nature", they mete out this great winding melody which probably deserved a better song overall. The harsh vocals here still seem a little on the loud side, and it makes it that much more awkward when they alternate into some of the cleans, but this wasn't really a band you listen to for that as much as the guitar-work.

And the guitars are pretty friendly here, perhaps too much in some places, as they almost flirt with a bit of softer rock on their attempts to create acoustic sequences worthy of "Moonshield" on In Flame's masterwork The Jester Race. There are certainly some decent moments spread throughout this one, with a lot of mood or melancholy, but they're almost always botched up by a clean vocal that just doesn't quite reach where it wants to be, or an issue with the mix. Embracing was just throttled by this problem throughout its brief sting, and while it's not as big of an issue with Dreams Left Behind, and this is pleasant enough, I simply liked the songs from the debut much more.

Verdict: Indifference [6.25/10]

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