Where Ironcrosses Grow

So here is album number 6 from one of Sweden’s pioneering and longstanding death metal stalwarts. A new Dismember album is always an event for me, a musical milestone I look forward too with glee, and while my fanboy approach to the band has to be stifled somewhat for an objective review, I find myself as usual satisfied with Dismembers most recent output, but at the same slightly disappointed. Each Dismember album has always has some sort of back story or intriguing plot line to go with its release. For the debut it was a burgeoning scene and comparison to Entombed debut, for Indecent and Obscene it was the whole police raid and subsequent banning of their material. Massive Killing Capacity saw the band repulse some die hard fans with a tempered and melodic sound, then Death Metal was the ‘return to form’ album, and Hate Campaign was after along wait.

 So where does that leave  Ironcrosses? Other than a questionable label change, nowhere, other than being album number 6. Much like the album, the release of Ironcrosses comes with little fanfare or flare other than being another Dismember album. Like a sixth child, the excitement seems to have lost its sheen and the luster is a little muted. Of course, this is still a Dismember album, and by that fact alone is a fine album, but I’m not sure where it fits in with their discography as a whole. It contains everything Dismember stand for: the Swedish buzzing guitars, Matti Karki’s distinct bark, the hum of the bass and the infectious yet brutal simplicity of pure death metal, so in that regard fans will not be disappointed.

To cut to the chase though, and put this album in layman terms for fans, Ironcrosses stands somewhere between the ‘been there, heard that’ onslaught of Hate Campaign, and the melodic, slower groovier aspects of Massive…, maybe even more so. There is a nice mix of short sharp, gut busting savagery that starts and end the album (“Where Ironcrosses Grow”, “Forged with Hate”, “As the Coin Upon Your Eyes” “As I Pull the Trigger”), but the middle section of the album seems to take a slower/melodic turn with a long chunk of Maiden-ish harmonies or crawling songs. Granted these songs contain some of the heaviest , slowest riffs Dismember have ever penned, but the lack of raw edge that saw fans criticize Massive Killing Capacity, is once again very prevalent. Take that as you will, as some of these songs are as weighty and anything they have recorded at the expense of speed.

The lumbering climax to “Me-God” makes the album’s first controlled turn after the first 2 more urgent tracks. “Tragedy of the Faithul” drips with melody than could be Maiden meets Massive Killing Capacity, and the same thing surfaces midday into the solo heavy and maybe overly melodic “Chasing the Serpent” it just comes across as a little too much forced melody. Those that enjoyed Hate Campaign’s monstrous title track will, enjoy the chugging pace of “Where Angels Fear to Tread”, but is does not seem to peak or climax like the aforementioned track. Karki and Cabeza’s involvement in Murder Squad arises for the Autopsy-like ooze of Children of the Cross”,that while grimy and slug-like, does not go anywhere and again just kind of cements the strange sense of non-fulfillment that the album exudes.

The Sami Studio production continues the Sunlight sound, but to these ears, Richard Cabeza’s bass isn’t as menacing as before, and instead of a wall of sound, you get more of a fence. For example the initial moments of “Sword of Light” seem drowned away, and Fred Estby’s drums just are not as forceful as they have been in the past. Have Dismember evolved? Hell no, they still belt out the style they helped shape, so there is noting new here-it’s just….I dunno, restrained? I wasn’t quite satisfied when all was said and done, and that’s a shock coming from me. I don’t want to put you off, the album is still well worth owning, but don’t be surprised if this gets lets airplay than the rest of their discography. I’m truly torn on this one,: my fan boy side want to go “YAY a Dismember-its killer no matter what” but my objective review side want the potential buyer to be aware of a marked leveling out of Dismembers sound despite their legendary status.

A possible victim of their own brilliance, Dismember have simply failed to reach the bar they themselves set with their first 2 godly albums. Still, its Dismember, and they blow away most if not all other bands, but they have just failed to reach their own high standard.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 8th, 2004


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