Sunday, May 6, 2012

Deathbreed - Your Stigmata

Your Stigmata
Pantherfarm/Ninetone Records

Deathbreed is a relatively new name to add to the ever growing list of acts attempting to make a name for themselves within the Swedish death metal scene in recent years. Formed in 2009, the Sundsvall (Västernorrlands County) based outfit soon found themselves in the studio, and released their first demo (Four tracks) E.P. ‘Masters Of The Soil’ in 2010. While the demo wasn’t widely distributed or promoted, the band’s promotional video clip for the track ‘Pulverized’ and the generally well received reviews from the European press, and the first prize in the opening act competition at the Nordfest metal festival in 2011 did help get the band’s name out there, and earn them some gigs in front of audiences. A year on, and the five piece outfit (Comprising of vocalist William Hultqvist, Ingnis lead guitarist Ted Dahlberg, rhythm guitarist/backing vocalist Samuel Englund, bassist Anton Flodin and drummer Emil Nissilä) eventually signed on with emerging label Pantherfarm (A subsidiary of Ninetone Records), who have just released the band’s official debut E.P. effort ‘Your Stigmata’.
Despite the label’s attempts to brand Deathbreed as ‘A new breed of Swedish death metal’, ‘Your Stigmata’ isn’t exactly the kind of E.P. that’s going to reinvent the genre, or the Swedish death metal movement as a whole. In fact, unless your tastes lean towards modern death metal, there isn’t a real lot you’re going to get out of this E.P. But if you’re into the current crop of modern death metal acts, welcome to Sweden’s latest newcomers!
The E.P. opens up with the obligatory introductory track ‘Prelude’, where over its minute and a half running time, the band present listeners with a cheesy keyboard based horror movie theme tune, complete with a sample of a woman screaming at the top of her lungs and a bit of maniacal laughing at the tail end. It’s all rather cliché, but O.K. provided you don’t over-think it all.
The first official track ‘Stigmata’ opens up with plenty of speed and aggression, and a vocal performance from Hultqvist that’s as guttural as you would expect from any self-respecting death metal vocalist. The production is very clean and clinical, but with enough grit to give off a whiff of old school, which is pretty much as expected. In terms of song structure, there’s not a real lot of variation between verses and choruses, but enough to distinguish the slight hint of melody there, which is again something you expect of newcomers to the death metal scene.
The follow on track ‘Hivemind’ doesn’t stray too far from the design laid down by the former track, with only the higher ranged backing vocal screams and the studio effects during the breakdowns standing out as really different, while ‘Final Holocaust’ is a little more direct sounding with its straight out assault to the senses at times, and a little more slower and crushing when the band shift tempos during the choruses.
It isn’t until the final track that Deathbreed really offer the listener something that stands out as different. ‘Pripyat’ is the only track where the band really utilise a bit more keyboard to create a mood, and it works exceedingly well. Although only featured within the last minute of the four minute track, the Middle Eastern sounding keyboards transform a fairly ordinary track into that something special – even if that comparison only compared the three former tracks.
‘Your Stigmata’ is an O.K. release, but far from genre-breaking or remarkable for what it is. Deathbreed are a good band, but a young one as well. I’ll be interested to see where Deathbreed go from here, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it takes another couple of releases until the band truly have a grasp on their song writing, and deliver something a little more cutting edge beyond what they have on offer here.

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© Justin Donnelly