Testament Sealant Mound opens with something that might as well be the theme for a made for TV-horror film, and clearly this is the intention behind the album. The moods are reminiscent of Poe and Lovecraft, but a great deal heavier than you'd expect. The nine track album makes liberal use of double bass drums, growled vocals, wailing lead guitars and severe riffs, against a backdrop of classic horror themes. It's music for hanging out in a graveyard with a murder of crows flapping around your ears.
The strongest part of the music absolutely has to be the vocals, which reminds me of My Dying Bride both in style and theme. The growling is capable and the clean vocals are well executed and moody. The guitar is also good and supplies weight and melody. However the rest of the sound is a bit flat and the guitar and vocals often have to work almost alone to convey the dark moods this album clearly aims at. With more time spent on production this could have been avoided, and the album would've benefited from a heavier and slightly dirtier sound in general. This is especially true for the snares, which could need a great deal more power and reverb to really punctuate the beats. This is perhaps a matter of preference though, but the way it is the drums are too weak to really drive it home.
It's hard to pick a favorite track as they tend to be a bit anonymous compared to each other. The album is more of a total experience, and I certainly recommend listening to all of it one go to receive the maximum impact. The second half of the album is clearly the best half, and "Dark Millenium" is absolutely the strongest track with its flirtations with arabic music, sharp stabbing riffs, as well as skillfully composed atmospheric bridges. Without being too "far out" it manages to combine the heaviest portions of the album with progressive elements. Kudos, and more of that!
In general the album is an ok piece of atmospheric metal, but I'm probably not going to listen to it more than once. I feel that the album lacks the final inch it would need to go to convince me. A little darker, a little angrier or a little heavier and everything would be so much more interesting. As it is I would probably prefer going straight to My Dying Bride if this was the fix I was after. If the entire album followed in the steps of the aforementioned "Dark Millenium", or "Pandora" it would an entirely different thing however.
I don't doubt in any way that Akem Manah is capable of producing something really enticing though. It's just not there yet, but going by the last four tracks we could have something really worth while in store for the future. I'm also completely certain that if you're really into the genre the album would strike a nerve with you.
Belgium, self released CD album, 2010
1 Death at Dusk [0:24]
2 the Back Unknown [6:13]
3 Dead for Days [4:31]
4 the Testament of Sealant Mound [5:48]
5 Sacrilegious Ceremonies [2:32]
6 Dark Millenium [7:44]
7 Pandora [9:59]
8 Nightmares [8:43]
9 the Quelling [3:46]
http://akem.bigcartel.com/ (to buy the album)