Personnel: Mikko "Linde" Lindström (vocals, guitar); Janne Puurtinen (keyboards); Seppo Tarvainen (drums).
Audio Mixer: Hiili Hillesmaa.
Recording information: Astrolab; Jätepuristamo Mkii; Petrax.
Illustrator: Migé Amour.
After a six-year silence and a pair of albums with their main project, H.I.M., Finnish quartet Daniel Lioneye return with a sequel to 2010's Vol. II. The appropriately titled Vol. III takes a different route than its predecessor, opting mostly for melody and singing instead of the singular torrent of black metal that defined Vol. II. That wild tornado has been calmed, leaving Daniel Lioneye with more space for emotions and the occasional guitar solo. Frontman Linde Lindström's vocals are the most obvious change on Vol. III. He sings more often than he screams -- often sounding like Alice in Chains' Layne Staley -- lending a newfound depth to songs like "Break It or Heal It," which are wrought with loss, disappointment, depression, and drama. The first half of Vol. III rocks the hardest, with a brutal quintet of tracks wasting no time in attacking the listener. "Blood on the Floor" pummels just as easily as it soothes, debuting Lindström's newfound singing voice atop the combined attack from bassist Migé, drummer Seppo "Sepi" Tarvainen, and keyboardist Burton. While "License to Defile" thrashes with whiplash riffs that pulse like propeller blades, the album's brutality level peaks on "Alright," an epic black metal beast that sounds like a building collapsing onto your skull. There are also relatively quieter moments amongst all the smashing. "Ravensong" rumbles to life with an arena-ready chorus, just as "Aetherside" creeps with dread, both serving as great Alice in Chains songs that the Seattle band never wrote. The latter includes some of the best guitar work on Vol. III, with a Cantrell-worthy guitar solo that carries the song to a grand close. Die-hard fans will also notice the inclusion of an updated, proggier version of Vol. II's "Neolithic Way." The changes are apparent: it's better produced, fuller, more melodic, and, overall, more listenable. It's symbolic of the entire album, especially in regard to Daniel Lioneye's discography. Vol. III is their most accomplished effort, balanced by equal measures of ferocity and harmony, professionally on par with anything the guys have done with H.I.M. ~ Neil Z. Yeung