Dusted Reviews

Sentenced - The Cold White Light

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Sentenced

Album: The Cold White Light

Label: Century Media

Review date: Sep. 26, 2002

Sentenced to Eternal Misery

Finland is cold. And dark. And depressing. Which is probably the reason why many fantastic metal bands have emerged from this Nordic country. But whereas Children of Bodom have used the long Scandinavian winters to rage against anything and everything, and Amorphis has incorporated the folk elements of Finnish music into their uniquely somber power-metal, the last few years have seen Sentenced bogged down in its own, self-perpetuating misery. The Cold White Light is yet another chapter in the band’s apparently endless suffering.

It didn’t need to be this way. The band’s first trip into the melodic/atmospheric direction on Frozen was nothing if not a great success. Superb songwriting ability combined with beautiful, melancholy melodies made for a unique record: the often contrary elements of powerful riffs and catchy, sorrowful leads came together perfectly in songs such as "Grave Sweet Grave". In 2000, Crimson built upon this tradition by polishing the band’s sound and packaging the music in a more accessible verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus pop-structure. The result was something of a predictable album, but filled with professional, if not groundbreaking, melancholy metal tunes.

And now, The Cold White Light. It starts off promisingly enough, with “Konevitsan Kirkonkellot,” a minute and a half of Finnish folk melodies strummed out on electric guitars, with a powerful rhythm section joining in midway through. Unfortunately, this is the most innovative track on the entire album. The rest of the songs can be split into two groups: successful Sentenced tracks that might as well be on a second volume of Crimson, and overly bemoaning, clichéd, I-hate-myself songs. The latter include "Excuse Me While I Kill Myself", a song that wishes it could be punk, but comes across as simply inane, both musically and lyrically (“I’ll kill myself, I’ll blow my brains onto the wall! C U in hell, I will not take this anymore!”); "You Are The One", an attempt at a love song, which has all the bad qualities of a hair-metal ballad (cheesy lyrics, whining lead guitar) and none of the good ones (sing-along chorus, top-40 potential); and "The Luxury Of A Grave". This last tune – although musically quite sound – doesn’t border the limits of extreme self-deprecation, it crosses it…by about a thousand miles. Lyrics along the lines of “My worthlessness is something there is no doubt of: I am a waste of the filth I was made out of” strike the listener not as sad, but as ridiculous, undermining the attempted feel of the entire album.

This is not to say that there aren’t enjoyable moments on The Cold White Light. The buildup of “Aika Multaa Muistot” (Everything is Nothing) is quite beautiful, as are the more solidly written tracks of the album ("Brief Is The Light", "Blood And Tears", "No One There"). And one track stands out in particular, "Neverlasting", which is a plain, testosterone-laden rock ‘n’ roll tune about carpe diem disguised as a Sentenced tune. But on the whole, this album leaves the listener wondering about the what-ifs, rather than the music itself. What if Sentenced had gone back to its death-metal roots? What if they had added some new instruments? What if they had done a concept album? What if…

Finland is cold. And dark. And depressing. But three albums pontificating on this subject turns out to be two too many. Although The Cold White Light is a decent album on its own terms, Sentenced seems to have stalled in some kind of melancholy rut of self-pity. This they have expressed on their past three albums. But in the end, even the devout fans have to ask themselves: do we care?

By Dusted Magazine

Read More

View all articles by Dusted Magazine

Find out more about Century Media

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.