Kardinal Sin – S.A.L.I.G.I.A. (Massacre Records)Wednesday, 1st March 2023
Scandinavia has produced a wealth of international acclaim in numerous sub-genres of metal – melodic power metal as notable as their contributions across symphonic/extreme platforms. Choosing to explore more than speed/bombast terrain over the course of this second full-length S.A.L.I.G.I.A., Swedish sextet Kardinal Sin take the listener on a historical journey from the Middle Ages to current landscape, as these ten tracks possess a flair for the dramatic without exhausting the listener experience.
Usually when lineups include two guitarists and one keyboardist, the thought process would lean towards a heavier, electric-driven foundation – yet the layers of keyboards Thomas Gustafsson sprinkled throughout contain main hook components as well as the orchestration/atmosphere angles to transport consumers to other worlds. Repetitive choruses that contain simplified melodies encourage audience participation – although vocalist Danne Wikerman belts out some falsetto highs for eagle-like emphasis a la Tobias Sammett or Michael Kiske during “Lost Imperium (Wasteland Symphony Part 2)”. The choir-oriented background vocals give off a Teutonic presence (think Powerwolf/ Edguy here), which can be very intriguing next to a standard, Accept-oriented mid-tempo cut like “Reveal the Sinners Soul”. Triumphant strains logically allow “In the Line of Fire” or double kick-oriented “They Crashed into the Storm” to sit favorably in Sabaton-oriented territory, although progressive bass parts and Danne’s dramatic comfort in higher registers helpful in making this band a touch more distinctive than most. Modern swirls of EDM tones plus steel sound effects embellish the natural melodic power metal songwriting, while guest vocal support from Ellinor Asp and Mathias Johansson on certain tracks adds depth plus diversity to the performances. When exploring emotive textures, Kardinal Sin deliver their most impactful material – “The Velvet Lies” engaging due to a thoughtful vocal presence and vitality from reflective verses to a climbing chorus, surrounded by a main musical foundation that Savatage fans cherish.
What does this mean overall for long-term appeal? S.A.L.I.G.I.A. is a serviceable record, not necessarily the most stunning effort in the melodic heavy metal field, but Kardinal Sin could go down a storm in front of the right festival setting or proper tour package.