Cardamon – Sun As Never
Sun as Never
For a brief break from the heavier stuff, we have the second full length album of Dutch band Cardamon, titled Sun as Never. This is a pretty nice album, with some some great melodies and some memorable songs, but it certainly isn’t for the typical metalhead. In fact, there is very little metal to be found on the second half of the album at all, which is more laid back and relaxing. As will often happen, I had been a bit misled, as I had seen it described on some sites as “gothic metal” while in reality it has nothing to do with that genre. It is actually a blend of alternative rock/metal, though it’s certainly not to be confused with bands like Evanessence, as the music is led by the two guitarists.
The album opens with “Away From the Light”, which features a pretty good riff before introducting lead vocalist Floortje Donia. It is one of the slower, more atmospheric songs on the album, with the vocals being the highlight. Floortje has a very pleasant voice, though unlike with most female vocalists I actually prefer her lower register, since sometimes when she stretches for higher notes it causes her to go a bit out of tune (near the end of “Down Alone” is the best example of this). There are also a few points on the album where she seems to be struggling a bit with the more sustained notes. Otherwise, she sounds pretty good most of the time, and stands out on a couple of choruses.
Musically, there’s a pretty good mix of the softer rock sections and some pretty heavy sections. “Down Alone” introduces the heavier side of the album, with some offbeat chugging that really doesn’t work for me at all. Aside from the chorus, it’s easily my least favorite song. This “chugging” can also be heard on a few other songs, and is obviously my least favorite aspect of the music (and alt rock/metal in general). Otherwise, the guitar work is very good, especially on the softer sections, with some really nice melodies and quite a few really good acoustic parts. The solos are also way above average for the genre.
There’s nothing terribly wrong with the first half of the album, but aside from “Away From the Light” and the chorus of “Down Alone”, I have a hard time getting into it. The second half I find much more relaxing and to my liking. “Masterminds” is the longest on the album at almost six and a half minutes, but with its great fast chorus and a nice slow section in the middle, it holds my interest the whole way through, and is easily my favorite on the album. The ultra catchy “Amaze Yourself (Sun as Never)” and “Walk on By” are close behind. This may seem odd considering the nature of our site, but I actually like this album more when the band moves away from the metal side of their music and just concentrates on being a melodic rock band. I don’t think the heavier sections are the best fit for the vocals either.
The album certainly has its share of rough spots and I don’t think it’s anything special overall, but the strength of the second half makes it an enjoyable listen with some very good guitar work and (mostly) good vocals. Not recommended for metalheads, though. Anyone looking for something simple, softer, and catchy with just the occasionally heavy burst should probably enjoy this.
Travis Green’s Rating: 3.0 out of 5