PENETRUM "Instrument Of Delusion" 2018
/Total Metal Records/

Tracklist:
1. Winter Breath 05:32
2. Into the Blizzard 04:08
3. Blazing Souls 04:22
4. Crimson Forest 05:16
5. Blood Tastes Like Lead 06:42
6. Crash Syndrome 04:20
7. Amok 05:00
8. Eternal Winter (Northrend cover) 03:58
9. Caprice of Delusion 06:09
Total playing time: 45:27

 

 

 

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Full disclosure on my part, most of the time when I see a release come in for review tagged as melodic death metal I pass on it. My reasons are simple, I know some will laugh (considering what I do like) but I see melo-deth as very generic. Over twenty years have passed and I still hear bands trying to be the next IN FLAMES, HAUNTED or worse SOILWORK.
So what interested me to check out this release was first and foremost they're Ukrainian. That great nation just happens to always produce cool stuff in my not so humble opinion. Secondly is what I read in their bio that their sound leans towards Finnish melodic death metal. But even with that, one listen to this their debut full length and you won't call em CHILDREN OF BODOM clones.
Along with the usual galloping rhythms, rough throated harsh vocals and melodic song structures there's a homespun folk influence which I like a lot. Toss in some hallowed vocals here and there plus incredible guitar work throughout and you've got a winner. I thought the cover song by a band I do not know was a throwaway track. But the final cut, an instrumental, was absolutely beautiful as well as a powerful ending statement.
If there are negatives then the album cover, which depicts an evil looking composer, throws you off on what to expect musically. This could've been power metal for all the eyes see. Another thing is the production which had me wondering. If say Peter Tagtgren got hold of this band's reigns would they sound generic as hell? Good question but for now this is an intimate play that will take any jaded melodic death metal person to the side and say wow.

MR. WOLF (https://scumfeastzineblog.blogspot.com)

PENETRUM was founded at the end of 2013. The musicians were inspired mostly by the Finnish Melodic Death Metal scene, but their music was also influenced by other various Metal subgenres like Black Metal, Folk Metal, Neo-Classic Metal, Viking Metal and Power Metal. “Instrument of Delusion” is the band’s debut album, from Ukraine, and contains nine tracks.
“Winter Breath” opens the album. It has a bleak sound, and chord structures that remind me of older JUDAS PRIEST. It morphs pretty quickly however into a Melodic Death Metal sound, on the more aggressive side of the genre. No clean vocals here. “Into the Blizzard” has some running lead guitar notes and a bit of Folky opening sound. Some fretboard finger tapping adds a nice element to the song, which is a bit of an amalgam in terms of the style. “Blazing Souls” is a faster moving song with some notable energy. The vocals are relentless and do not pause for even a moment. “Crimson Forest” starts slowly and builds into a mid-tempo pace. The lead guitars keep a pretty constant presence in the song, and you can start to pick up on some of the Neo-Classical influence the band talked about in their bio.
“Blood Tastes Like Lead” is a near seven-minute song, featuring a softer entrance with some clean guitars and clean vocals. Though the cleans are a bit pitchy at times, you get the idea of the intent to deliver a melancholy sound. “Crash Syndrome,” by contrast, is heavy and angry right from the start. The instrumentation here is pretty tight as well. Sulima works the drum kit with passion and a strong sense of timing. “Amok” opens with some melodic lead guitar, and harsh Death vocals. It settles quickly into a groove. Fury abounds, and you can definitely hear that Finnish influence in this song, especially in the Folky guitar elements, along with some NWOBHM melodies.
“Eternal Winter” is a cover of the band NORTHREND. It must be a favorite for the band, because it fits very well with the other songs on the album. Doleful at times and ripe at others, it reflects the subject of the song title. “Caprice of Delusion” closes the album. A Neo-Classical sound abounds in this instrumental. What the album probably does best is present a diversity of styles into the overarching umbrella of Melodic Death Metal. The band has an obvious wide array of influences and know how to work them into the music quite well. Sometimes you hear NWOBHM harmonies, other times some Folk and Power Metal support, and other times a more traditional Melodic Death sound. I think they have a good deal of potential, but they just haven’t quite actualized it here in their debut.

Songwriting: 6
Originality: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell (http://www.metal-temple.com)

I'm not fond of melodic death metal. Strangely enough, I see it as a watered-down, radio friendly form of the source genre. My patience with this subgenre is very thin, therefore making it almost impossible to earn my attention, keep it, and leave me with a good impression. That being said, Penetrum has somewhat clawed at my interest and succeeded at absorbing it within the music of their 2018 release, Instrument of Delusion. Don't let the album's somber artwork misled you into thinking Instrument of Delusion is a melancholic album. Absolutely not! This isn't the kind of melodic death metal that sounds all whiny and mournful; it's quite the opposite and even sounds cheerful on some tracks.
Instrument of Delusion places a heavy emphasis on catchy melodies, guitar riffs and leads, all the while creating a feeling of blackened death metal via the vocals being presented. Some elements of folk metal are also introduced on the album, especially on the track "Blazing Souls." This track features fast-paced thrash metal-style drumming and furious guitar leads, all ridden triumphantly by the folky style of singing that appears more towards the middle of the track. The song is very fast and even increases in intensity (momentum-wise) towards the end, via the speed metal style of drumming. Yes, I'm thrilled to say that Instrument of Delusion has much variety (thus avoiding boredom and repetition) that is handled with care in terms of implementation, thus preventing the music from turning into a clumsy disaster of notes. The speed that "Blazing Souls" possessed is toned down a bit on the following track "Crimson Forest;" indeed it's flow is still relatively fast, but the little loss in momentum is compensated for with very strong guitar work on the leads and the solo. Towards the end of "Crimson Forest," Penetrum returns to the quickening pace of "Blazing Souls" by adding scorching "first-wave" black metal drumming with furious "second-wave" wave black metal tremolo picking.
Now, to quench the listener's thirst after that blazing sprint through the forest, we see Penetrum slow down quite a bit on the track "Blood Taste's Like Lead." Nikita Volkov takes a break from the harsh vocals for a short moment and soothes the listener's ear with delicate clean singing. The hoarse screaming only reappears on the chorus of the song and far towards the end of the track. The guitars also take a step back into a low tempo supporting role and allow Volkov to execute his task proficiently. The clean singing on "Blood Tastes Like Lead" is not bad at all, nor is it perfect; it’s just right and suits the production well.
I encountered one blemish which appeared on the track "Amok." On this track, the production at the very beginning of the song sounded very choppy and faded, as though it had been recorded and printed on a poor quality of cassette reel. Thankfully, this doesn't persist and only lasts for a very short period of time. Overall, the production is sturdy and does not in any way come across as being too clean. It seems to have some likeness in terms of black metal, which is unusual in melodic death metal; however, it works out well and positively contributes to the way Penetrum plays their its of music.
"Caprice of Delusion" is an instrumental track that slowly builds into a blizzard of barraging guitar melodies, leads and riffs. The guitars take full command over this six-minute epic; it's a track that constantly changes its melody and pace while distributing memorable bits of melody. It brings the album to a decent end, and although clocking at 45-minutes long, the listener's sense of time is lost throughout the entirety of the album. Because of this, I can say that Penetrum's 2018 debut offering is truly an instrument of delusion.

8.5/10
Alex (https://metalbite.com)

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