Cipher System – Communicate the Storms (Nuclear Blast Records)

Saturday, 23rd March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Modern melodic death metal can be a bit of an irritant. Anybody that knows my musical taste knows that melodic death metal is and always will be high up on this writer’s list of favorite genres. It’s what ushered this guy into the welcoming arms of extreme metal. And like all styles that get a hint of popularity, they get ripped off and bastardized. Melodic death is no different, and so many bands became either formulaic or were just plain copycats. Cipher System, thankfully, is not one of those bands.

Releasing their first album a long seven years ago, Cipher System had sort of faded away. It was quite the shame, as these guys “got it.” They knew how to use some of the more modern elements of the style – mainly, lots of keyboards and the usage of both clean and harsh vocals – but still contain the firm roots of wonderful guitar melodies and aggression to spare. Cipher System is finallyback with Communicate the Storms and it’s a winner.

Beginning right away with “7 Inch Cut,” the atmospheric keyboards are in full bloom and the guitars are driving and in your face. A barrage of stop/start riffs kick in, with some melodies for good measure. It’s a varied beginning to the song, but the heaviness quickly comes into play and the song rounds out nicely. The clean vocal usage here is also quite tasteful, and well placed. It isn’t drowning, either, which is a huge positive. “Forget to Forgive” is a bit more of a barnburner, buzzing along with equal parts ferocity and slick harmonies. “Gods Terminal” boasts some of the best lead guitar work on the whole album, making it one of the most enjoyable tracks on the disc. Other highlights include the addicting “The Stairway” and album closer, “The Failure Starts,” which contains some of the most brutal moments of the album, along with some ridiculously intense screams.

Cipher System has churned a well-done and relevant piece of melodic death metal. It does fall back on the occasional melodic death cliché, but it does so with panache. Communicate the Storms is an album that is overflowing with addictive riffs, searing leads, and more melody than you can shake a stick at. There’s a lot of edge to this band, and they craft fine tunes, so they’re definitely worth a listen. This is also one of a fine array of melodic death metal releases this year, proving the staying power of one of the best sounds metal has yet to produce.

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