Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.
What Was the band Sentenced and Why Are We Covering Them?
Finnish heavy metal band Sentenced started out their career in 1989 as a death metal band and they would play until 2005. Their debut album called Shadows of the Past has the vocalist and bassist Taneli Jarva who was also a member of the band Impaled Nazarene. My reason for covering this band is partially because I have recovered from my past unresolved conflicts and issues and also to bring attention to one of Finland’s most famous death metal bands before the entry of Ville Laihiala.
Shadows of the Past Album Cover
How Does the Album Shadows of the Past Begin?
"When the Moment of Death Arrives" is a death metal song about an old man that is nearing death and he asks for forgiveness. Has he wasted his life? Life is a gift that should never be wasted. In this song, death is described as a relief from what is called mortal suffering as the soul is reborn and the concept of time is ageless. Human life does have its trials, tribulations, and rough moments but learning to accept the good with the bad is one of the big keys to a life well lived.
What is the Musical Style of the Song When the Moment of Death Arrives?
The song’s riffing style is a mixture of Carcass and early Amorphis: think early Amorphis in the period of Tales from the Thousand Lakes. It is also possible to hear the distinct influence of Human era style because metal fans will recall the 1991 studio album by the band Death and its melodic interludes. But Shadows of the Past is merely a basic technical kind of death metal album and to compare it to anything Chuck Schuldiner wrote would not even be a fair comparison.
How is the Rest of the Album Shadows of the Past?
The song "Disengagement" is about a life that is filled with darkness and tired mind. We hear a massive guttural growl in this song. Standard death metal is the style that Amorphis also played before switching over to progressive rock. Anyway, the end of the third song ends with the sound of chiming bells as we are introduced to a more progressive guitar sound in the 5th song. It turns to a more Gothic sound in the next part. The album lyrically focuses on themes such as hell, Satanism and death but the band would abandon this lyrical style in the later part of the 1990’s. "The Truth" is a song that is trying to tell us that in the beginning of human life as generations came and went, they lived in ignorance. The first humans were hunters and gatherers that would hunt for food as they had to deal with wild animals. The song is also trying to say that no one can show humans what the right way is. "Beyond the Distant Valleys" is a song that describes what can happen if someone can get into our heads with their senseless theories and cause confusion. Some people are on this planet to try and make others suffer at their expense. We do not need to feel confused until the day we die but instead we must try and distance ourselves from those kinds of people when we can do so.
Final Thoughts About the Album Shadows of the Past
Overall, Shadows of the Past is a good experimental death metal album for the time that it was written but it loses points for the less than stellar audible vocals by Taneli Jarva, the negative lyrical content and the fact that the album is just not melodic enough to be considered an elite death metal album.
Final score as of this first writing: 70 out of 100 points
© 2018 Ara Vahanian
Ara Vahanian (author) from LOS ANGELES on July 30, 2018:
Joey Smith: thank you so much for taking the time to read this! I hope you will enjoy this band's earlier work because it is different from the releases that would come in 1996 and later. I should probably add a few videos later and then keep everyone posted about the updates. I've been listening to this band Sentenced for at least 6 to 8 years now. I thank you for commenting and you are welcome to read my many other reviews.
Joey Smith from Atlanta on July 30, 2018:
I'm definitely going to check this out...