Album: Memories Of A Dying Place
Release Date: 25 June 2021
Genre: Modern Melodic/Atmospheric Metal
Label: Independent Release
Jennie Nord: Vocals
Claudio Oyarzo: Drums/Guitars/Bass
Sweden is a country that is known for its metal and it definitely has no shortage of bands. With a thriving scene and often being the biggest trend setters for many genres and subgenres that follow, it is by no means a far stretch to say that the country often boasts some of the most talented and creative individuals out there.
Aligned is a small but budding new group who are already starting to make quite a name for themselves online and within circles of the Gothenburg scene and considering the bands lineup, it’s not hard to understand why. Aligned consists of Jennie Nord, the vocalist for another fairly well known band called Rave The Requiem, and Claudio Oyarzo, who used to be in bands like The Resistance of which founding In Flames member and guitarist Jesper Stromblad was a part of along with Marco Aro, the vocalist of The Haunted. He was also a member of Minora for a time being.
Now, I realize that there are a lot of Swedish bands in this genre and it’s not exactly the kind of stuff most metalheads are looking for. Either because it’s considered too soft or too pop inspired for their tastes. But, what separates Aligned from their peers is the wide variety of influences they draw from and just how prevalent it shows in their songwriting an execution. Memories Of A Dying Place incorporates a wonderful blend of song structures and melodies found in the likes of the Devin Townsend Project, In Flames, and even a generous serving of J-Rock influences in the choruses, riffs, and solos. Particularly on tracks like Rebel and Remember Me which could easily be used as opening themes or ending themes for a shounen anime series.
The record was mixed and produced by Roberto Lahgi who has produced albums for the likes of In Flames, Sonic Syndicate, The Resistance, and Witchery. If you are at all familiar with any of the following bands I just mentioned, you will be able to tell right away that his signature style of mixing can be found in the tone of the guitars but especially by his iconic drum sound of which has influenced many other Swedish bands and has even become the standard in a lot of post-2010 produced melodic death metal albums.
The vocal performance by Jennie Nord is rather gentle and ethereal and actually reminded me of vocalists like Sophia Aslandies of Season Of Ghosts, Courtney Laplante of Spiritbox, and Lindsay Schoolcraft of Cradle Of Filth and Antiqva fame. A lot of the time in metal, female vocalists tend to get shoehorned into either the symphonic metal category, the Arch Enemy category, or the more mainstream Evanescence or Halestorm style usually because of their approach to vocal techniques or choice of genre. However, Jennie’s singing, like the three vocalists I mentioned prior, have a more gentle and soothing approach to them which not only compliments the atmospheric instrumentation, but, allows for her to deliver a performance that feels organic and her own without feeling like she is trying to imitate or follow in the footsteps of those that came before. Instead, Jennie takes what could be considered a standard singing style and turns it into something distinct for what Aligned are trying to accomplish and it most certainly works and it works extremely well.
Now for the instrumentation. As mentioned earlier, Claudio is not some random nobody who came out of nowhere. The man is an incredibly talented and experienced musician with a lot of career defining performances under his belt along with being a YouTube personality. Whether you are familiar with his work in The Resistance and Minora or whether you know him for his reactions and reviews of anime and movies on YouTube, Claudio has showcased his musical talent on both spectrums of his career and hearing original music from him without it being a cover of an existing song or conforming to what other band members would want from him was a real treat. If you know Claudio from his metal career, then you can expect a lot of similar melodic death metal inspired chord progressions and solos mixed with some Devin Townsend influenced brands of harmonies and synthwork. Granted, it’s not heavy like the other projects he has worked on but the musicianship is still there and going for a more relaxed and softer tone does not mean he is forced to hold back.
If you know Claudio from YouTube, you will now that he has done covers of anime openings, most notably from One Piece and RWBY, and he definitely incorporates a lot of that J-Rock flair into his riff work. His drumming is also well done and it definitely gives the more chilled vibe of the music the bit of head bopping kick it needs to keep your attention.
Overall, this EP is a well-rounded and enjoyable listen. Especially if you are looking for metal that is a little more on the relaxed, atmospheric, but catchy end of the spectrum. Aligned still have plenty of time to evolve and make a name for themselves but with two seasoned professionals making up this team, I have no doubt that it won’t be long before they leave their mark in the modern melodic metal scene. I am already looking forward to their next album or EP and I hope that they will continue to grow both musically and in recognition. As much as metal can be all about the heaviness or the extreme, sometimes a little bit of feel good and calm vibes is in order, especially with the way the world is right now. Go and listen to Memories Of A Dying Place by Aligned now!
Written By: Russell Gainsford