Finland, you’ve done it again. Shadecrown, who hail from central region of that country, are a melodic death/doom band who really know how to hit where it hurts, and another in the seemingly endless production line of top class bands emerging from the frozen Northlands…

More death than doom overall, the band still manages to pack a fair bit of melodic punch when needs be. Standout track Hate Reflected is a mournful gem, built around some startlingly good riffage from Joonas Vesamäki and Tomi Tikka that alternately bludgeons and beguiles, often returning to an earworm lead line that brings to mind label mates The Eternal at their grandiose best. The track writhes through several distinct parts, each different from the last, depending on that coda to pull them together like a master chef adding a unifying sauce to disparate parts of a meal to attain cohesion. And, like that chef’s efforts, the result is lipsmacking!

In fact The Eternal are a good point of reference throughout Riven; Although the band keep the clean vocals to an absolute minimum, their adept collision of languorous keyboard backdrops, unforgiving guitar barrages, crystalline lead lines and yearning vocal refrains is heavily redolent of the Melbourne act, and that’s no bad thing in my book. Meanwhile the album is bookended by an opening track (Not Until The End) and a closer (Traces) which betray a strong kinship with fellow fins Amorphis (in their late nineties pomp), with vocalist Jari Hokka delivering a conviction-packed performance on both tracks.

Elsewhere Divided adds a little prog to the recipe, with Saku Tammelin throwing his keys into the grinder to duke it out with the two guitars. Imagine Dream Theater jousting with Paradise Lost and you’re getting close to visualising the mountain of sound generated on this track. But whilst it is definitely noted that Shadecrown wear their influences proudly (some might say a bit too proudly) on their sleeves, the lack of a true individuality never gets in the way of the listener’s enjoyment. If you’re going to tribute other bands you may as well tribute the best, and it’s clear that as a band Shadecrown possess more than enough talent to produce music at least to equal their idols in the future if the clues provided by Riven are anything to go by. Well worth a listen.

Riven is out now.