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Project Utopia EP

Inverse (2014)
Rating: 7/10

Beginning with an introduction more suitable to an episode of fantasy television series Game Of Thrones, Helsinki’s Creinium start their journey on this debut five-track EP.

These guys – a sextet by trade – are a relatively new band, having started in 2012. Having then released their Modern World Tyranny demo in 2013, Creinium have merged into one of Finland’s finest exponents of melodic death metal.

With the overlong introduction (‘Societal Collapse’) out of the way, the band digs into the title track; beginning with cosmic haste, a rush of spacy keyboards gush from the void to accompany that clicky drum sound we’ve come to expect when it comes to modern extreme metal. Even so, this is reasonably atmospheric European extreme metal which features strong guttural vocals and a nice mix and mash of styles hinting at traditional metal, contemporary death metal and, dare I say it, even a hint at soaring, albeit polished black metal.

At times technical in its nature, this beast known as Creinium adopts a number of guises and isn’t easy on the ear at first listen. But once you’ve come to terms with the gothic strains and jarring melodies, it can be quite rewarding as the vocals of Sami Haimilahti drift between hoarse growls and galactic whispers of menace.

The band are certainly mature and accomplished enough to create multi-layers to construct their universe of sound, which for the most part rages like black waves from an icy waterfall. As the tempos vary and the keys make their voice heard, however, Project Utopia really does become an EP that is worth more than just a few listens.

That title track remains long in the ears after it has closed to silence, but it’s mainly due to the unexpected keys that it becomes so intriguing. As the guitars whine with doom-laden aplomb one moment and the next rattle in hectic fashion, it’s clear that Creinium are trying to do something very different within their chosen field. This becomes more apparent on the gothic opening chords of ‘New World Order’, which is frightful in its percussion as Aleksi Holma slams in cohorts with those cold guitars and sweeping synths.

‘New World Order’ has all the odd intrigue of a film soundtrack at times; one could imagine these guys carving out vast instrumental monoliths to caress a grand sci-fi movie, but for now they mustn’t forget to stick to their path in providing extreme and intricate death metal passages. These passages heave and combust, eventually creating a myriad of melancholic structures which are only let down time and time again by that clicking drum. If you can look past the occasional flaws though, tracks such as ‘Eschaton’ have so much to offer when it comes to dark diversity and interstellar progression. In fact, when things become pacier it’s as if Creinium are a spacecraft hurtling through the cosmos, experiencing all manner of differing atmospheres and majestic layers.

The key as to why this is such an engaging opus is the fact that it marries faster segments with mostly celestial effects which work alongside the melodic guitars, guitars that of course have a propensity to transform into harsher noise. While very much extreme metal, it never alienates the listener, but with a little less emphasis on prog and maybe a stronger lean towards the heavier side, Creinum’s next project could be the one to finally make heads turn.

Neil Arnold

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