Desolator
Unearthly Monuments

While most of the current old school death metal revival leans towards either the Stockholm worship side or the Incantation-y, ‘caverncore’ side, a few bands are simply going pure old school. The likes of Deserted Fear, Skeletal Remains, Chapel of Disease, Navalm, Resurgency, Wound, Deus Otiosus, are culling from classic death and thrash metal. Add to that group Sweden’s Desolator, who rather than go for their country’s tried and true sound, go for something less obvious.

With a tangle nod towards early Vader, if Vader were slightly less well produced, Desolator is a simple no frills old school death metal act with a dusty, musty thrash gloss. The sound is analog and pure, with a grainy old school guitar tone that’s neither buzz saw or cavernous. The songs are simple, ranging from a few frantic, sloppy blasts and simple mid paced thrashers with gravelly old school death metal vocals. Nothing is forced or processed and that results in both positives and negatives for Unearthly Monument.

While not produced or mixed as horribly as the recent Morbid Priest of Supreme Blasphemy from label mates Kingdom, the sound, while nostalgic is a bit flat, if true to the early ’90s. There’s a empty if honest airy-ness to the guitars, but the rhythm section is a cardboard sounding ruckus, lacking real punch or presence. But you take old school nostalgia with the sound – the good with the bad. The song writing has much the same dichotomy as the songs have a nice nostalgia without being forced, but by the same token there’s nothing that really leaps out or sticks with you. There’s plenty of scrawling enjoyable riffs and solos as heard on “Feeding Frenzy” and some nice bursts of old school primal-ness such as “The Triumph of Death” or “Impaled “and surprisingly catchy “Second Killing of Christ” or doom tinged closer and the album’s most varied complete track, “Antimortem Autopsy” (complete with 90s synth intro) And yeah, the lyrics are completely late ’80s/early ’90s enjoyable silliness.

On the more positive note, the vocals are impressive, not modulated and raw in their power, being very old school without trying to hard. However, within the slew of recent old school throwbacks, Desolator is liable to get lost in the shuffle as Unearthly Monument simply doesn’t grab you or do anything exceptionally well, and certainly isn’t quite up to par with some of their peers. It’s just a solid no frills release that is merely OK and a fun, simple listen every now and then.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
November 13th, 2013

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