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Schizo Level

ThanatoSchizo - Schizo Level ©2001 Misdeed Records
1. RAW
2. Suturn
3. Patheon (as In Strip-tease)
4. Withering Art
5. Nightmares Within
6. Cântico Negro
7. Tiger's Doom
8. Love & Breath (Rebind Of Thy Restless Mess I)
9. A Day (Rebind Of Thy Restless Mess II)
10. Big Bang
11. Nausea
12. Thanatos
13. Weird Curse

Yes, that is a bare breast on the cover, but no, ThanatoSchizo is not a Napalm Records signee. ThanatoSchizo is a Portuguese band offering a blend of black, doom, death and heavy metal that helps them live up to the "schizo" part of their band name. Schizo Level is the band's first full length release, although they have a mini album called Melégnia that came out in 1999. At the very least, Schizo Level should establish the band in the same playing field as other tripped out entities such as Solefald.

The CD begins with a few horns sounding a bit like a high school band warming up. From there, the band takes the listener through a veritable avalanche of styles, from Cradle of Filth styled vocals, slow doomy passages, female singing, upbeat Moonspell metal-goth and more. Schizo Level moves fairly well for a bane attempting to throw many things at the listener and the changes aren't abrupt or entirely unwarranted. The Dani Filth vocals that characterize some of the songs is a bit tedious, but high pitched, reedy, hollow screeching never has appealed to me a whole lot. Fortunately those vocals aren't quite as abundant towards the latter (and better) half of the album and the band offers melodramatic clean vocals and raspy death metallish growls. The majority of the band's music is reliant on guitar, putting more emphasis on heavy than on keyboard drenched goth arrangements.

At the end of the day, ThanatoSchizo isn't quite as weird as the aforementioned Solefald, but there elements the two outfits have in common. Given that ThanatoSchizo is such a young band, Schizo Level is a decent debut that shows some promise and an abundance of talent within the band. Those who enjoy bands who challenge themselves may wish to explore ThanatoSchizo further. Not a perfect debut, but definitely a honorable one.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2001

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ThanatoSchizo - InsomniousNightLift ©2002 Rage Of Achilles
1. Reminder
2. Of Lunar Water...
3. A Promenade Portrait
4. Sublime Low
5. Upshot Veil
6. The Journey's Shiver
7. Insomnious Night Lift
8. Dance Of The Tender Leaves
9. Slow-chamber Candles' Choir
10. Nightly Lift?

Having ditched the suggestive gothic overtones of Schizo Level for a more abstract and visually intriguing image, Thanatoschizo delivers their third album with a little less of a sublime touch as their cover art and interior photos suggest. To a large degree, InsomniousNightLift is much less scattered than 2001's Schizo Level, showing some progression in the band's songwriting. However, lest anyone think this Portegeuse outfit has greatly simplified things, fear not. InsomniousNightLife wanders nearly as much as any Opeth album, except with more interesting parts and less reliance on tried'n'true formulas.

Thanatoschizo somewhat dwells within the "beauty and the beast" type of gothic doomy metal, as they toss out the required clean male and female vocals with the prerequisite growling. There are also dramatic spoken passages that really could exit the building without being missed. Musically, the band offers a fairly slow paced doom hybrid (there are sometimes hints of Anathema's The Silent Enigma in the heavier parts, but don't rush off expecting that album. Just hints, all right, pal?) that throws in clean passages, lots of keyboards and arrangements that meander throughout the various subsets of the band's musical approach without a compass. Certainly fans of Opeth will have the patience to sit through this sort of thing.

On the whole, InsomniousNightLift is a reasonably decent release that is better than bad, but still not good enough to warrant massive hooting and hollering over its virtues. Thanatoschizo is showing some growth from their previous release and growth is good. Another couple inches and they'll be ready for some big kids' pants. Till then, this CD is meant for the more dedicated lovers of wandering metal.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2003

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ThanatoSchizo - Turbulence ©2004 Burning Elf Records
1. Sweet Suicidal Serenade
2. Traces
3. Soured Memory
4. inExistence
5. Untiring Harbour
6. Freedom Subways
7. Void

Around the turn of the century (surely you remember those halcyon days of yore), there was an insurgency of what was referred to "beauty and the beast" metal bands where pretty lasses sang pretty melodies alongside a gruff sounding grumpy male vocalist. This fad, fueled by the likes of the dubious Theatre of Tragedy, seemed to be all the rage for awhile. Napalm Records grabbed onto it and presented a series of album covers featuring various young ladies in various states of undress and along the line, my interest in the style waned. Perhaps yours did as well. No doubt many bands persevered, although I'm not inclined to check many of them out now.

This all brings me around to Portugal's ThanatoSchizo, who politely will not let me forget about them. This is actually a good thing, as they're one of the few bands that got into this particular subset of heavy metal and did something good with it. The band has the initial sound down pat, but has the tendency to wander a bit in their musical adventures, throwing in a variety of passages that deviate a bit from the form. It does add a certain degree of dynamics that are sorely missing from their brethren. "Beauty" vocalist Patricia Rodrigues has a voice that is good, while avoiding operatic hysterics. Her counterpart, Eduardo Paulo, alternates between the death growling and clean singing fairly well. What I find refreshing about this band is that their sound, while generally sticking to the old theme, doesn't sound contrived, cliched or undercooked.

Turbulence is the record that Dismal Euphony might have made had the Gods of Suck not devoured them. If you still have a hankering for this style of metal, ThanatoSchizo is one of the better purveyors of it.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2008

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Zoom Code

ThanatoSchizo - Zoom Code ©2008 My Kingdom Music
1. Thick 'n' Blurry
2. L.
3. Hereafter Path
4. (Un)bearable Certainty
5. Pleasure Pursuit
6. The Shift
7. Last of the Few
8. Pale Blue Perishes
9. Pervasive Healing
10. Nothing as It Seems
11. Awareness

Shifting every so slightly towards the truly avant-garde metal realm, ThanatoSchizo's newest release, Zoom Code find the band releasing their first album in four years. This Portuguese act has slowly evolved throughout their career, with each new album showing just the slightest progression. In some ways, this may work in their favor because the shifts feel natural and at no point does ThanatoSchizo bite off more than they can chew. I can't foresee these chums releasing something like Theatre of Tragedy's awful Musique.

The general approach of ThanatoSchizo remains essentially the same. The band came from the same movement that melded black and death metal and marrying it with gruff male vocals paired with pretty lady vocals. As I've stated many times, often on street corners directed loudly at passers-by, this style was quickly bludgeoned to a pathetic mess by tons of lesser bands, most of whom ended up on Napalm Records. ThanatoSchizo avoids being one of the dozens of mediocre bands by crafting songs with good songwriting. On Zoom Code, those seeking a bevy of heavy guitar riffs will be satisfied. And those who like a little bit of electronic influence will also appreciate the inclusion of its subtle usage. For the most part, the band sticks to a fairly orthodox approach, but uses other influences and sound styles as texture and to flesh out the basic ideas. This keeps the band from venturing into Arcturus territory, but helps them stand out from the rest of the crowd. The songs are energetic, well arranged and don't get stale at any point in the album.

Easily the best album under ThantoSchizo's collective belt, Zoom Code is an album that should generate some interest in various metal crowds.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2008

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ThanatoSchizo - Origami ©2011 Major Label Industries
1. inExistence
2. (Un)Bearable Certainty
3. Nightmares Within
4. Pervasive Healing
5. RAWoid
6. Sublime Loss
7. Dance Of The Tender Leaves
8. Sweet Suicidal Serenade
9. The Journey's Shiver
10. Hereafter Path
11. Last Of The Few
12. Pale Blue Perishes

ThanatoSchizo is one of the handful of bands who I've witnessed develop over the last decade, albeit from afar. They're in Portugal, after all, and I'm in the Pacific Northwest, which means it's not terribly likely they'll be playing at a club down the street any time soon. Anyhow, in that time, ThanatoSchizo has morphed from a slightly off beat blackened doomy death metal hybrid into a band that doesn't fall under a metal subgenre at all. In fact, in the press release files sent along with this album, it is pointed out that Origami is not a metal album. No doubt a few strident metal fans will immediately tune out, but I'm not sure why anyone would willingly limit themselves like that. Thankfully ThanatoSchizo didn't because Origami is their strongest, and most interesting album to date.

Origami takes the cues from their last album and fully dives into the non-metal elements of their music. This recording tends to focus more on strong singing by Patrícia Rodrigues and songwriting that allows for good dynamic space. The non traditional elements such as electronics, orchestral instrumentation and other items not normally used in a typical rock or metal band are given more prominence, and to good effect. What stands out the most is the very solid melodies and very good singing throughout. Rodrigues sounds entirely confident in her singing and thankfully no male singer feels the need to come in with a growl or death metal grunt. It's 2011. The world is changing. And the current modern world doesn't particularly need much more "beauty and the beast" singing duets.

I've been writing music reviews for the better part of two decades and it's an unsaid requirement that there's got to be at least one comparison to another band in a review. This paragraph is designed to fulfill that requisite. I'd say if you liked what Atrox did on Binocular in terms of stepping away from preconceptions about the band or wish the later Green Carnation records actually featured decent songwriting, ThanatoSchizo's Origami is worth checking out. Each time this band releases an album, it tops the previous one. ThanatoSchizo may have stepped outside of their comfort zone with Origami but I'm happy they did and find this to be a very enjoyable record.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2011

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