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Qualen : Patterns Of Light

Newcomers Qualen play a melodic form of Doom/Death that struggles to really find its own place in the Extreme Doom world.

It seems like everyone is going for Doom/Death these day but, where most are set at trying to make something that is monolithic and dense with despair, Qualen is trying to serve up something that is a bit more grounded in the Melodic Death metal genre rather then the old school variety that is all the rage these days. Ultimately though its those roots that really hinder Qualen from really hitting the mark. You'll find that it's mostly a melodic effort with shades of doom laced in rather then something that marries the two genres.

I had some pretty high hopes after the intro to the first tune 'Refraction' which saw it hit some nice beats before the more gallop style riffs came barging in. It was a nice change of pace! But the further I got the more I kind of found myself asking : "where's the doom?" Besides some nice melody moments here and there I found that there was a far more reliance on chugging melodic riffage than I was hoping for. Besides some interesting rhythmic choices on the first few songs that's essentially what you'll be getting throughout most of 'Patterns of Light'. Melodic riffing into a slight almost Katatonia-like moment into more melodic chug style riffing. Now, it's not like I have a huge problem with that on paper but the best moments the band has is when the melody takes over without the heavy melodeath style riffing.

Which is why I feel like the second half of the album is where Qualen steps it up a notch and shows more of the potential that they have. As soon as you hear 'Afterglow' you'll be treated to a far better showing then what came before. It's like a switch got flipped. The styles are integrated better and the riffing itself becomes a bit more interesting. Coupled with less vocals the music gets a chance to breathe a bit more and becomes far stronger as a result. In fact, after hearing 'Afterglow' I really hope the band finds a way to really integrate something like that right into the song rather than as kind of a intro. Even the actual heavy parts are far more effective here.

So yeah, after almost the entire album things slow down a bit. I guess in a way the pacing works on paper but if you're labeling yourself as Doom then I don't think you should be afraid of putting some slower numbers up closer to the front. I find myself wishing that there were more moments like the second half because I really do feel like the band excels when it stretches out like that. Even in the faster songs on the first half the best parts are when the melody takes over from the riffs and vocals.

Production-wise everything sounds nice and by that I mean everything. It's just so friendly and nice sounding that it just feels like modern Metal production 101. Some character with the sounds would have gone a long way in giving this a bit more of an identity. Even the vocals, you'll instantly feel like you've heard it before. The guitars have a nice punch to them, but not too much. The bass is there but also not too much and the drums never overtake any of the tunes. Just a bit more character goes a long way! And while we're here I really feel like the vocals come off as trying way too hard to be aggressive. Even in the moments where it would have befitted backing off a bit there they are trying to be aggressive anyway. Which doesn't always suit whats going on, I'm afraid.

Overall Qualen definitely do have potential but I really feel like cutting some of the rhythms and adding more melody would go a long way in improving the overall stature of the songwriting. They are just so much more interesting when those sections take over. But if the last three songs are any indication then perhaps in the future these guys will find there own path to tread And, hopefully we will get a full album full of excellent moments. Rather than just a few here and there.

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Reviewer's rating: 5/10


Tracklist :
1. Refraction
2. Transparency
3. Fluoresence
4. Darkening
5. Eclipse
6. Afterglow
7. Dispersion
8. Shadow

Duration : Approx. 46 minutes

Visit the Qualen bandpage.

Reviewed on 2019-04-29 by Eli Eliott
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