without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Despite Deserted Fear‘s German roots, the band’s material on their debut full lenth, My Empire reeks instead of a rather diverse range of influences. The stench of death that reeks in the air is suffocating as the band preludes their filthy brand of death metal on the Intro track, but once the madness begins with The Battalion of Insanities there is no stopping Deserted Fear. Right from the get go there is a rather strong Asphyx influence with the riffing style that Fabian and Mahne utilise, though there is a somewhat slight Polish sound thanks to vocalist Mahne’s growls, sounding like a fusion between Nergal’s deep, hollow growls and Martin van Drunen’s howls, some of the very best vocalists in death metal.
At the same time, there are also slight influences from Swedish death metal and Floridian death metal that are littered throughout the album, ensuring that the attention of all death metal old school is captured, not leaving anything up to chance. The Swedish influence is especially prominent with the bombastic tone of the guitars, and the contrasting, haunting melodic leads that Fabian tends to throw in on top of the chaos that goes on around like on Pestilential and Nocturnal Frags. There is hardly any chance for the listener to breathe at all as My Empire is almost a complete blast fest from beginning to the end, and even slightly slower tracks like The Black Incantation are sufficiently relentless and crushing in their own ways. Drummer Simon completes the band lineup, and he punishes his kit without any mercy at all for the entirety of the album. Though nothing particularly technical or flamboyant that German extreme metal has come to be known for, the band also proves their songwriting prowess with powerful tracks that hit the listener relentlessly one after another, fitting to their themes of war, violence and destruction, grabbing the attention of the listener right from the first listen.
For a debut full length release, My Empire is an extremely well-crafted album, with Deserted Fear writing and playing their music like veterans of death metal. The seamless fusion of the large variety of influences has also made this album a fitting tribute to old school death metal, and is sure to please any fan of death metal at all, especially fans of the Dutch or Swedish variety of death metal.
My Empire had me at 'hello', or rather the frightening, effective and simple swell of ambiance, low timpani and horns that set up "The Battalion of Insanities". I admit that when I first looked at the album, I felt as if I was in for yet another treatment in the tireless yet exhausted crusade of classic Swedish death worshipers. There is a hint of that, sure, but I was happy to hear that Deserted Fear had more of a Bolt Thrower angle to their style than I was expecting, if it was tempered in the more modern and potent sounds of bands like Hail of Bullets or Amon Amarth who know very well to weave a tight melody through an ample, crushing, headphone-storming tone.
The caveat here is that the Germans also incorporate a very abusive vocal tone that offers more emotional splatter than your average guttural grumbler. It's like Martin van Drunen, John Tardy, Chris Reifert and L-G Petrov thrown into a blender, the resulting viscera spattered all over the riffs; and with guitars this muscular, you really need that distinction to keep the music forceful, primal and aggressive. Drums and bass here are in general just enforcers for the guitar, but they're kept voluminous in the mix so that they're never drowned out, and overall Deserted Fear feels more taut and tempered than a tank. Ballistic and bred for war, this is, and while the actual construction of the riffs throughout My Empire might not feel incredibly original or distinct in this theater of combat, the pacing is very even throughout. The leads are sepulchral, spectral and constantly provide aesthetic elevation to the horde of fist-pumping zombie hymns beneath, and tracks like "The Black Incantation" have these incredible breakdowns that you can feel deep down in your gut. In fact, you should probably listen to this alone, because if another human being is in close proximity, you're likely to perform some unwelcome piledriver or body slam on them that gets you a night in a cell and a court date.
Fans of modern Asphyx, Hail of Bullets, or Fleshcrawl, or The IVth Crusade should be first in line for this record, because it maintains that same marriage of blustering studio clarity and ceaseless, pulverizing aggression that those bands honor; but it will also hold a lot of appeal for those into Swedish veterans Dismember, Grave and Unleashed. Topically, the lyrics don't seem all that interesting or unique, and the black/white cover art and logo feel typical, but My Empire is just one of those albums that succeeds on its volume and sincerity. Nothing reinvents the wheel, but where the riff structures often suffer from that sameness we all experience when deeply invested in decades of a musical genre, the Germans know how to create a journey that at least keeps the listener engaged throughout. Certainly huge sounding for a debut.