Gutter Instinct
Age of the Fanatics

Despite playing Swedish death metal, my favorite genre ever, the 2015 debut EP, The Insurrection, from these veteran Swedes really didn’t grab my attention and seemed a little like Prosthetic Records desperately dipping their toe belatedly into the genre to grab some of its resurgent popularity.

So here is the full length follow up, and it appears to fare better, meaning I’ll remember this after it’s done spinning. First off, the production from Kristopher Orstadius at Mangelrum is awesome. It’s not over done of forcing the HM boss sound, but captures some of the rawness of the genre’s earlier forays as well as a little Bolt Thrower wall of noise rumble (the title track in particular). It’s a name and studio worth keeping an eye on. Second, the vocals of Thomas Ernemyr also capture the genres bygone era with a deep, distant reverbed growl.

But how is the overall album? Well, it’s pretty solid. Not Interment, Demonical or Entrails good, but certainly a solid, if filthier and dirtier listen than some of their peers, without being too punky or d-beat laden. The 45 minute  and 11 songs  are all well developed, 4-5 minute numbers that deliver a noisy, mid range clatter that’s mostly faster and certainly a littler based in the band members thrashier previous lives. There’s not too much atmosphere or other bells and whistles, and the songs rarely hit anything I’d consider classic or even blatant homage to the obvious peers. Other than the intensity and density of the first Grave album, nothing here screamed a real  rip off.

In fact, it’s not until the 3rd song, “Bloodstorms” where the album starts to hit its stride with a nice melodic solo. Then after the 1 minute bruiser “No Place for the Cross” its not until “Bridge of Broken Bones”, the fifth track, where the album finally takes a bit of a breather and delivers it’s first concerted foray into slower, lumbering pastures and it’s done very well with a convincing low end groove. In fact, due to the wall of noise production, these slower moments are far more effective than the relatively so-so full on blasting, which tends to wash out (i.e opener “Leper Beholder”, “Counter Culture”, “Faith Junkies”) “An Ending In Fire”, in particular is a far more devastating track when being a little more restrained.

A more classic Stockholm canter surfaces on ‘Death Cult” and “Exile”, the initially pure blasting closer, has a very cool mid song groove and a sick album closing rumble to die for showing there is a lot of old school potential in these guys without being cliched, forced or over done.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
June 10th, 2016

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