I, admittedly, have a few preconceived notions about what an album is going to sound like before I even hear it, especially if it’s a one-man project. If I see the words “one-man project,” I tend to think “oh, this will be a raw, depressive black metal release,” expecting a fairly lo-fi, somewhat primitive sounding record. Given the vast number of one-man black metal projects (do Burzum, Leviathan, or Xasthur ring a bell?) that are out in the metal world, this is usually a safe assumption to make. Swedish one-man death metal project, Diatonic (consisting entirely of Joakim Antman), however, turned that assumption on its head with I Am The One, his second full-length record.
Joakim Antman, who also plays bass in Overtorture and The Ugly, proves himself to be an extremely accomplished and compelling songwriter on I Am The One. The production is on par with most major label records, and just goes to show that not all one-man projects are created equal. The malevolent tone that can be heard on tracks like “The Eyes” and “Kiss of Death” reminds me of Bloodbath, who play a similarly dark-sounding death metal, with melodic bits mixed in. Though I wouldn’t say Diatonic is melodic enough to be lumped in with the likes of In Flames or Dark Tranquility, there are enough melodies mixed in to keep this record from being an atonal chug-fest. “Game Piece” and “Fading” even flirt with prog-metal, thanks to the use of odd time signatures and flashy guitar work, with “Fading” even featuring a killer guitar solo from Simon Johansson (Bibleblack/Memory Garden/Wolf).
If you love Swedish death metal, you’ll definitely want to pay attention to Diatonic. Full of crushing riffs, dark, atmospheric melodies, and guttural death growls, there’s a lot to like on I Am The One. Joakim Antman proves himself a jack-of-all-trades, with a skillful performance on each instrument, as well as an excellent craftsman in the songwriting department.