Anguished Cold

Anguished Cold
iTunes sadly recognizes this album as sharing a title with Sevendust's Cold Day Memory, which is just about the most misleading error whoever is responsible could have made. Anguished is a one-woman Finnish black metal project, as opposed to a five-piece nu-metal band fronted by a black male, with one foot firmly in the raw and the other in the depressive end of things. Upon first listen, opener "These Gray Days" comes across fairly piecemeal, until the vocals kick in. Dear, sweet Satan, those vocals. Frontwoman Demoness's performance will go down in history as some of the most hideously tortured howling ever laid to tape, if there is any justice. Reminiscent of early Dani Filth captured mid-suicide attempt, only it's actually a woman, the intensity of her performance will initially give the impression the vocals will carry the release, until "Come To Me Satan" introduces an underlying melodic sensibility that complements Anguished's sound much more appropriately than the unfettered nastiness of the album opener. Although Cold climaxes somewhat early, with the mid-tempo sprawl of "September Nights," one's attention is held throughout, occasionally reaching fantastic highs, such as the Dissection-inspired harmonies in "The Last Trip" or the ethereal, clean vocals that preface the ambient title track. Creating an excellent atmosphere without ever becoming truly monotonous, and featuring arguably the extreme metal vocal performance of the year regardless of subgenre, Cold is a disarming, passionate release that deserves a lot more attention that it likely will receive. (Hammer of Hate)