I began listening to Whispered nearly two years ago, and back then I considered them to be a gimmicky Finnish melodic death metal band riding the coattails of groups like Ensiferum and Children of Bodom. After all, if I were to play Whispered’s “Hold the Sword” back-to-back with Ensiferum’s “From Afar,” I’d bet my girlfriend’s dogs (sorry Vee!) that the untrained ear would undoubtedly assume it was the same band. That being said, over the past couple years I’ve found myself returning to Shogun Macabre over and over again, and that’s because the album is phenomenal.
Whispered is heavily inspired by three things: Finnish melodic death, the Oriental culture, and video games. Quite frankly, three of the greatest things that man has ever created. The first two influences are obvious upon listening to any track on Shogun Macabre. The latter takes a bit more awareness to discern, but it is evident in the opening guitar riffs of “Lady of the Wind” and “Upon My Honor,” in which the electric melodies sound like they were ripped directly from 8-bit games.
The composition of the songs in Shogun Macabre is spectacular. Whispered have decided to forego a keyboardist on this album, which is a bummer; however, the effects, instruments, and vocals recorded outside the band’s native four-piece are all expertly crafted and integrated into the music so flawlessly that the absence of the keys is hardly noticeable. Every song feels epic, complex, and both beautiful and brutal at the same time. In a way it almost listens like a good video game plays: there’s a lot to take in at first—a learning curve, if you will—and once you’ve become attuned to it and understand it, you realize just how much you need it in your life and only crave more.
Whispered’s Shogun Macabre gets a well-deserved rating of four and a half royalty-free, clip art samurais out of five.