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I was afraid that it will have to happen eventually; sooner or later every band must deliver less interesting album. Even though CENTINEX managed to keep the quality with quantity and for almost 10 years of their career all their albums were really great, this time I think they’ve failed! Hmm, maybe my expectations were huge, I expected too much from them, but can you blame me? After five stunning, skull crushing albums from CENTINEX I had the right to expect another killer effort. Unfortunately the band recorded an album, which maybe is not a total disaster (far from that), but comparing it to the predecessors isn’t just that good. Of course that’s only my personal opinion, but I do think that “Diabolical Desolation” is the first weak link in the hellish chain called CENTINEX.
Of course one may wonder why I think so, if basically all the aspects of “Diabolical Desolation” follow the well tried patterns form the previous albums. It’s not like CENTINEX started to play power metal all of a sudden (they’re not AFFLICTED he, he). You’ll find here the sharp riffing, many fast, blasting parts, as well as lots of the traditional Swedish melodies. All these things were present in CENTINEX before and I always loved the band for ability to keep everything fresh, aggressive and totally interesting. Why do I complain now then? The reason is simple – this album doesn’t bring that certain quality I expected. And with things went too far…
First and foremost, “Diabolical Desolation” is just boring. Each next song that complete this 50 minutes long CD appears to be just mediocre and not even half as killer as some of the older tunes. I’m afraid that CENTINEX lost a lot of their great aggression and enormous energy that the previous albums had and were filled with. It all just sounds quite powerless. With the bigger that usually focus on the melody and totally unnecessary addition of clean vocals and keyboards in few fragments, the result can be only one – softened, weakened death music. The main fact is that often “Diabolical Desolation” is overfilled with too mellow parts, what basically softened their style totally, in many fragments the band start to sound like AT THE GATES or other such Swedish melodic death bands and that’s a disappointing to me. Where did their pure death metal vitality, the sinister feeling and almost black metal ferocity go?
“Demonic Warlust”, opening song, is probably the worst stuff CENTINEX ever recorded, the keyboards in this song are just annoying and I cannot understand why did these guys decide to put them here if the result is so ridiculous? Same shit comes in the title track for a while and in “On Violent Soil” – arrgghhh, sorry, but the way this instrument has been used on “Diabolical Desolation” is just wrong, it doesn’t make the music sound any darker, it doesn’t make it more atmospheric neither. I have the feeling like someone pushed the keyboards into these songs just for the sake of having them here, without really thinking what the purpose is for them. Who cares that their parts sound ridiculous and cheesy? Well, I do.
To be honest with you, I listen to “Diabolical Desolation” and I’m not able to feel joy from it. There aren’t even songs on the album, which I would totally like. Hmm, maybe “The Bloodline” is exceptionally good, as it’s probably the most aggressive and crushing song, but still it’s just one track out of ten. “Spawned to Destroy” has many thrash metal influences and really reminds me some of these black / thrash metal bands, like the Polish BLOODTHIRST. Maybe “A War Symphony”, actually one of the more melodic, but in the classic Swedish death / black metal style also brings my attention. But with all the respect I’ve got for CENTINEX, these songs are no contenders to the older tracks and for this band, they’re just mediocre. Even Johan Jansson’s vocals sound different… From the cool thrash / death growling they turned into some kind of melo – death screams, which may be OK for someone, who’s into SOILWORK, but not for me. Eh, in my opinion the entire album sounds just weak and surely was the worst stuff that CENTINEX has unleashed so far. Songs like “Soul Crusher” are the worst proof for that. Fucking hate this track...
The year 2002 saw the return of Centinex with a new full-length effort, Diabolical Desolation. With the previous Hellbrigade, our Swedish butchers returned to a more solid and natural death metal approach, forgetting a bit the black metal touches of the past albums. This new album can be considered as a natural continuation of the previous album because the death metal continues to be the strongest point here and also the production now exalts the classical death metal style of the band. The guitars have the classic Swedish touch but the sounds are not so clear and all the instruments seem melted down together; however, let’s analyze this album in a better way.
“Demonic Warlust” can be easily considered one of the best tracks here because the level of inspiration is excellent and the tempo is immediately fast. After awhile, we remain surprised for the more melodic sections we can find: the keyboards create a base under the less impulsive guitars and this has its climax on the solo. The rest is definitely faster and the vocals are in constant balance between the screams and the classic growl that, however, is never excessively screamed. “Forthcoming Terror” is straightforward death metal with fast palm muting parts and sudden blast beats. The atmosphere is pitch black and “Spawned to Destroy” adds more violence with heavy riffs and impulsive paces. However, going on we can notice in a clearly way that At The Gates band threw big shadows over this album. We can notice it from riffs and the structures: Centinex are not playing the old form of Swedish death metal, but a sort of a more modern one.
However, don’t be frightened because the violence remains untouched and the heaviness that lies on the mid-paced breaks is huge. On the other hand, we must also mark a few melodic influences that concern especially the solos. Sometimes they remind me Darkane style too on the great debut Rusted Angel because the modern touch is quite evident even in a song like “Soul Crusher” that has its power on the sheer frontal assault. The refrain is good and the guitars always hide a hint of melody on some parts as the first clean vocals come out too. The title track displays a melodic guitar intro to produce a gloom atmosphere in a crescendo of intensity on mid-paced moments. Here the melodic lead lines are far more present and we can notice it on the following “On Violent Soil” too. The tempo is faster, with more blast beats but the guitars riffs are always a bit melodic and the keyboards enter again to increase a sort of spectral atmosphere.
The Massive Killing Capacity influences reign supreme over “Total Misanthropia” song for the tremolo on the guitars and the up tempo. “The Bloodline” sounds more “classic death metal” for the use of some ultra low pitched vocals and the ultra heavy riffs. The speed is important here but the mid-paced break by the middle is something nasty and catchy at the same time. After all this brutality, the melodic lead notes of “A War Symphony” are more than welcome, even if the structure soon returns to death metal but it’s a death metal that never forgets the melodic hint. The final “Hellfire Twilight” is again incredibly influenced by the mid-era Dismember and the groove is also more present to give the right heaviness to these good riffs.
Well, all things considered, I must admit that here we have another good release by this overlooked band. One thing is sure and it’s that Centinex don’t like to be stuck in a fixed genre for more than one album and that’s good also because they can do it so well! Well, at least they remained always nasty and fast!
Centinex's Diabolical Desolation is a pretty standard death metal offering, but includes enough extra elements to set it apart from the pack. Firstly, the guitar work is top-notch caliber. You can almost detect the direct traditional heavy metal influence ala Iron Maiden. Most of the songs are hard driving, although they transition quite well into the melodic guitar solos. The title track is an excellent example of this.
The second element that sets it apart is the uncharacteristic, yet well-timed keyboard arrangements. They add some amazing atmosphere and feeling to make this album more than just run of the mill death metal.
What does hurt this album are the cliched death metal vocals. But if that is your cup of tea, than you will feel right at home. Also, the other drawback is the one-dimensionality of some of the tracks.
In closing, this was my first taste of Centinex and I was pretty impressed. If you like Death Metal with melodic leanings than you should check this out.