Drunk reviewing is awesome, but it takes the right kind of album. While you can do a dark ambient review while slightly tipsy (lest no dark ambient reviews would ever be published on Archaic Triad), writing an honest review while quasi-shitfaced takes another genre. So, sipping Fernet and downing vitun Karhu III (Täyttä Olutta), this reviewer has decided to engage with a melodic metal album. Once again, the specter of Dave Rotten hangs over the scene, since Coffeinne’s Circle of Time is yet another product of Xtreem Music sub-label Fighter Records. And what a product it is.
The music is fundamentally heavy metal: melodic riffing, (mostly) melodic vocals and melodic composition come together in a largely successful quest for heaviness. The lead guitars shoot off brilliant licks, lines and the occasional solo, while the rhythm strings chug forth to accomplish diesel drenched, distorted accompaniment. “Fallen Angel” smells a lot like Iron Maiden’s “Power Slave”, but with a chorus in major that brings all sorts of early German power metal to mind. “Take This Life” goes even further, double kick drums moving seamlessly into catchy rock’n roll/heavy metal riffing, intensifying ever more.
The song-writing remains in focus, with the various influences and ideas coming together in almost pop-like verses and choruses. There is a whiff of Swedish melodic death metal here and more than a few hints of NWOBHM there, and in the end it all fuses to shape an absurdly sing-a-longable piece of heavy fucking metal – perfect for drunken reviewing! When “No Escape” rolls around, this reviewer must fight the urge to memorize the lyrics and howl drunkenly along – a behavior which would not be appreciated by the various children and women sleeping in this very house.
Most tracks on Circle of Time are potential hit tunes, for better or for worse. The lyrics are all in English, and while the album is solid Fighter Rec material, it is easy to imagine some producer taking Coffeinne and turning them into world stars. Tracks like “Save Me” retain their slightly harsher, metal edge, but could probably be turned into radio hits if the right/wrong type of commercial genius got involved in the mix. As things stand, though, Coffeinne have reached a perfect balance between professionalism and a sweet underground “feeling”. If they were to become famous, this would be the album their hardcore fans would always view as their best, regardless of what they’d do thereafter.