Heavenwood – Abyss Masterpiece (Listenable Records)

Friday, 22nd March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

“Heavenwood” sounds like a retirement village, and a morbid one at that if you really think about it. In this case, it’s the name of a long-standing Portuguese Goth metal band who are releasing their fourth album in 15 years (!) in the form of Abyss Masterpiece. Falling right in line with the hit-or-miss Euro Goth metal movement, Abyss Masterpiece (which is a killer title, by the way) is exactly that: Hit and miss.

Not terribly dissimilar to German Goth metallers Crematory (minus the chick keyboardist), Heavenwood dish out plenty of atmosphere barbs and quasi-death metal maneuvers on this 12-song effort. There’s hearty portions of brutish, muscular Goth metal in the form of “The Arcadia Order” and “Goddess Presiding Over Solitude,” neither of which manage to resonate. Same bodes for “Her Lament” and “September Blood,” two songs that employ rather generic riff-action and gruff vocals that fail to lock in.

The album is highlighted by “Morning Glory Clouds” and “Like A Burden.” “Morning Glory Clouds” is augmented by a shimmering keyboard arrangement and lead melody, both of which merge nicely with the twin vocal action of Ricardo Dias and Ernesto Guerra. “Like A Burden” takes the cake here, with a soft-to-the-touch chorus, full of melodic splendor that is as simple as it is effective. If this is indicative of what Heavenwood is capable of when they’re toying with melody, then they should hit upon it more next time out, ‘cause this is legitimately worthy stuff.

While Heavenwood’s straight-death metal leanings threaten to override their melodic sensibilities, a closer inspection reveals a band still learning to strike that perfect balance between brute force and airy Goth. It’s not an easy thing to do, and Abyss Masterpiece, while hardly a masterpiece, is full bodied Goth metal from a band that eventually, will learn to stick the landing.

www.myspace.com/heavenwood

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)