I was pretty hyped about Into The Glorious Battle in 2017, after all it was Cryonic Temple‘s first album after an absence of 9 years, and 12 years after their last good album. The Swedish power metal force has been around for a few years in the early ’00s, putting out three immaculate melodic power metal records back to back, ultimately failing in 2008 with a turn towards a modern sound and a change of vocalists. Into The Glorious Battle made this slip undone, featuring a whole lot of classic power metal tracks and the energy we were used to from classics such as 2005’s In Thy Power. In retrospect, the album surely could have been better in parts, and original vocalist Glen Metal’s voice still is sorely missed, but overall it was a way for Cryonic Temple of getting back on track.
Just one year after going back to the roots and appreciating their strengths, much in the vein of Hammerfall‘s mistakes eventually reconciled by 2016’s Built To Last, the Swedes return with Deliverance. To me, this was a sign of newfound energy and a creative will. Oh, was I wrong.
Much like any other Cryonic Temple record, Deliverance is abundant with catchy choruses and speedy power metal melodies. That’s pretty much all this album has in common with previous CT releases. When I listened to the album for the first time, I couldn’t believe my ears. On Into The Glorious Battle, I was positively raving about singer Mattias Lilja and how much energy he brought to the band’s sound; I even saw him as a lesser Glen Metal. What he is pulling off on Deliverance can’t be called anything but a travesty. His vocals are suddenly monotonous, colorless and drab, with any hint of energetic singing all but a glimpse at the horizon of sleepy singing.
Opening track “Rise Eternally Beyond” (starting after three minutes of a humdrum instrumental) sounds nothing like Cryonic Temple. The band’s trademark, the energy and power in both music and vocals are utterly lost. It sounds like this was recorded with the whole band high on sleeping pills. Proof of that, and not making it better, is the sloppy recording/mixing (half a word missing at 2:50, if you want to check). If I didn’t know better, I’d say Mattias Lilja aged about 25 years between 2017’s album and 2018’s.
Hey, if the music is good, the singer can’t ruin too much, no? First of all: yes, Mattias’ singing is so terribly monotonous, it ruins every track. Second of all, the music isn’t even good. It pains me to write this as I adore CT‘s first three albums and loved Into The Glorious Battle. But it has to be said, each track is incredibly unimaginative and shiftless. It’s really weird to be honest, as songwriter Esa Ahonen has been around with the band since its beginnings and used to be an absolute master. All in all, Deliverance sounds like a bunch of tracks too weak to put on Into The Glorious Battle.
The same is true for the production. Another conundrum – Deliverance has been produced by Pelle Saether, the same guy who did the band’s first three masterpieces. These days however the guitars lack any punch whatsoever, the drums sound like made of cardboard and there are sloppinesses like the mentioned found all over the album.
There isn’t a single good track on Deliverance. The title track, channeling some Judas Priest vibes, comes close to being a good track. I have to mention “Pain And Pleasure” as well, which sounds way different. I didn’t get any information by the label, but it very much sounds like there’s a guest singer here. Or Mattias woke up from his pill sleep? In this song, there’s energy.
Cryonic Temple are probably as disappointed about this record as I am. The sound, the vocals, all screams “hey, we don’t really care”. Which is a major letdown as I had the feeling we could still expect great things from this band after their resurrection. The band’s never gonna admit it, but I hope this is really just a bunch of leftovers from last year’s sessions (I mean, how else do you write and record 14 songs in under a year), or Esa Ahonen didn’t really try. So I hope they will take a bit more time for the next album and improve on songwriting, vocal enthusiasm and production sound. It’s absurd how every aspect of this record is botched.