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Deathmarched, a Finnish band made up of a collection of fellows with plenty of earlier band experience between them, plays very old-schoolish death metal. And they do it rather well. Open Fire, their first demo, is actually a promo or, rather, a sampler of tracks from their first projected full-length, and consists of two "rough mix" tracks that will appear on the said full-length, once they find a label interested in releasing it; their web pages mention a ready cache of ten recorded tracks, quite sufficient for a full album. And finding a label with a demo like this should not be a mission impossible, all things considered.
The band's sound on Open Fire is very old-fashioned, a bit coarse, and dirty as hell. And it's lovely! The fabled times of early death metal immediately spring to mind, and even the mildly rocking, or to put it better, death'n'rolling attitude simply begs for a live setting. This is the kind of rejuvenated/exhumed old-school death metal that is meant for live gigs in cheap, dark clubs with two-euro worn plastic pints of lager, bad lighting, and a bunch of smelly people as the audience. There are absolutely no modern trappings of the over-produced and technical death metal of today, but a gritty, unpolished slab of medium-paced death metal from at least two decades ago.
Yeah, the tracks may not be highly memorable, very complex, or even original in any way, and the two songs on the plain CD-r are a way too short sample of the offerings to decide if the music could carry through the three quarters of an hour the alluring promised full-length would require. But the two songs are a very enjoyable sample of what the full-length could turn out to be, and that particular album would be solid, enjoyable, and worth getting.
It's impossible to pass an informed judgement on Deathmarched based on such a brief sample of their goods, and with the built-in catchiness the demo wears out its welcome surprisingly fast, but in a good, give-me-more kind of way. And armed with the non-Pantera-kind of groove the band obviously masters with ease, the group's future looks bright. The only two items that need to have a bunch of fingers crossed are
A) that the rest of the ten tracks have the same sense of ease, mastery, groove, and drive as these two sinewy baits,
B) that they actually manage to find a label interested in this kind of retro-death metal, to make sure the world gets a bigger dose of Deathmarched, and
c) that the "raw mix" aspect does not mean the future full-length is too heavily produced and polished.
The last point is the most important one; A seems like a given, and even if B does not happen, there's always the option of an indie release, and so, the danger lies in C. Sure, give the guitars a bit of extra punch. Balance it out a bit, add muscle. But for the sake of all that is stillborn, do NOT turn this into a modern pile of plastic by running it through a huge bank of liquid-nitrogen-cooled supercomputers, polishing it with robotic lasers, compressing it to hell, mastering it with the same tools as Toto did, and then applying three layers of Turtle Wax. This is the kind of death metal that needs to have a few rusty spots, some broken rivets, and the crude welding showing. This is supposed to be filthy! For that old-school feel.
While Open Fire is nothing new or innovative, and Deathmarched is most likely not going to end up headlining a tour next to Iced Earth in Argentina or something like that, there are surprisingly many of us who enjoy this kind of music. The idea of a full-length of this is tempting, and today is a good day to start holding one's breath in anticipation.