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Dew-Scented is a thrash-death band from Germany that hit the scene back in the early 90's. This is the time when a lot of people who were once into thrash and death metal started listening to grunge and other popular genres that would eventually fade and pass like most trends. However, those of us who stayed involved with and true to the music we loved, became aware of a lot of bands that at one point would have been much bigger. And one of those bands is Dew-Scented.
I wouldn't say that Dew-Scented is a totally straight forward thrash band but to anyone that is familiar with the greatness that is thrash, it is obvious that is their biggest influence. A touch of death metal for good measure.
"Issue VI" is probably the album by Dew-Scented that I hear the most of when discussing the band with others. It's either becasue someone knows of it through heavy promotion or they are a fan of Dew-Scented and think it is their best work. And that is odd given the nature of how most people always like a bands "early stuff", especially thrashers. I would agree that this is the best.
Compared to "Ill-Natured" and "Impact", this albums production has decreased. It's almost as if they tried to emulate more of an analog sound digitally. I'm not going to say that the action they took is "fake" or "non-metal", but I will ask why they would do that, if they could have just simplified the process by doing it the way they intended the album to sound.
One of the big pros to this album is the guitar work. Now, with me being a thrasher at heart, consider it blasphemy to allow acoustic guitars to be used on a thrash album. Well, better yet, is it a thrash album if there are acoustic guitars? I'll let the listener decide that. But I wouldn't strip the title of thrash from this album because of a few seconds of acoustic work. I will say that it is made up for by ultra hyper-speed riffing on the first track "Processing LIfe". The rest of the album stays at approximately the same 32nd note rate except for a few measures on "Bled Dry" which still remains very swift.
I've heard complaints about Leif Jensen's vocals. I can understand someones argument but I like the uncoached and raw sound that he possesses with his style. It's more of a yell-like bark than a scream. Nothing knew with Leif here.
The drums lean more towards a blast-beat and snare happy black or death metal style which is the only reason this band can be categorized as thrash-death rather than straightforward thrash. I would say that the drum work is even a bit progressive. On "Innoscent", it was more of a simple back beat pattern but on every other release, it sounds very death metal influenced.
This album doesn't fall by the wayside like so many other thrash albums mid-way through and stays consistently quick from start to finish. If you haven't heard of this band before now, I would recommend this to be a good one to start with. And if your a fan of thrash or death metal, I would gamble on it. Odds are in your favor.
Dew-Scented love to creep up on unsuspecting victims, hide behind a tree and give them a little bit of a head start, and then run up and kick the poor bastards right in the balls. They don't actually do this physically, mind you - or maybe they do and ever male in Germany hates them - but instead choose to crush their audience's genetalia with a potent blend of death-thrash.
And from their discography, it looks like they've been doing it a long time. I bought IMPACT blindly, and while I did like it the post-first-tracks-repetition-wasteland reared its ugly head. On ISSUE VI, I can certainly sense some progression for one of the hardest bands with one of the wussiest names in recent memory.
The first noticable difference is the production. It is much more dry, and while I miss the full sound of IMPACT I think it was done to allow the listener to perceive every instrument more clearly, instead of things melding into a wall of double bass when the band started their tour of Bangcock (ha ha). The second thing you notice is that there is a lot more variation, and I think that has been accomplished by mixing a few slower parts, and, GASP, a slower song into the mix. The strained vocals, which I've heard described as constipated, are still there, and Uwe's endless double bass fanatacism has not abated in the least. But some new tricks are being tried here, and I will be goddamned if they don't work.
That dreaded slower song, "Prison of Reason," is by no means even really mid-paced, but it does have a catchy and repeated riff that will get stuck in your head, and no effort is made to push things to their usual frantic speed level. The songs that tend to mix in more restrained, thrashy sounding riffs are the ones that tend to sound the best, though. "Processing Life" starts the album out with some acoustic guitar (DOUBLE GASP), but then goes right into that speedy dewey mode we all know and love. "Ruins of Hope,"Vortex," and "Conceptual End" all are fast with sections thrown in to make sure you don't forget them. And hey, is it just me or does "Ruins of Hope" sound a lot like "Cities of the Dead" from IMPACT? I guess your hope would be ruined if you lived in a city of the dead. You certainly wouldn't be upbeat about it.
My favorite track has to be "Out of the Self," with a great simple gang-shouted chorus, twisiting riffs that shift frequently, and multiple tempo changes. Seriously, this is an addictive album overall, and a positive step above their previous work. Highly recommended for fans of death/thrash, though YYRKOON these guys ain't. Speaking of which, that's my next review...
Sometimes, in music, there are times to explore new regions, to innovate and progress beyond the usual. Pressing the boundaries and advancing further from the traditional have some intrisic value in them, especially in metal and other extreme genres of music. No one should, however, ever discredit using tested and proven formulas to create a good work of art. That's exactly what Dew-Scented have done on Issue VI.
Modern, aggressive thrash bands tend to resemble each other. Take Dew-Scented, Carnal Forge and Japan's pretty damn good King's-Evil, for example. They all have used the same basic formula of unrelenting speed and anger, coarse screamish non-melodic vocals and technical excellence in the form of a huge mass of riffs. None of them waste their own or our time playing slower parts in their songs, and all three aim for a sonic assault and a merciless wall of riffing guitars. As a result, to tell them apart requires paying attention to production and the vocalist's voice, as the end results tent to resemble each other to a high degree. I'm willing to bet that if we had some raw, unprocessed live material without vocals, most people, including most fans of the three bands mentioned above, would have a hard time telling them apart. In the working, tested formula I mostly miss radical tempo changes.
In the fierce competition within this style, on studio albums, Dew-Scented is a very close second to Carnal Forge among those three. The differences are minimal, though.
I'm not an expert on Dew-Scented's earlier works. The preceding album, Impact, is the only one in addition to Issue VI I've heard so far, but getting more stuff by the german thrashers will be unavoidable after this. It should be noted that the line-up recording Impact and Issue VI is the same, unlike on the works preceding Impact. Even if the albums -and even the aforementioned bands- resemble each other, it doesn't make this any worse. A working formula, be it for thrash, gunpowder or hellish curry, is worth a lot, and should be utilized to the fullest.
And since the Issue VI resembles Impact, describing the changes and differences is necessary. The band's sound has become slightly clearer and the production has gained a dose of finesse. The result is mixed: on the one hand, it's possible to better hear every single instrument and the impressive technicality, but on the other hand, the sound of Impact had more weight, and some of the heaviness of a 130 kg stagediver was lost in the process. Yes, Impact was heavier.
The speed has gone up a notch, and the vocals have a dryer, screaming quality in them, diminishing the brute force somewhat. The vocalist tries perhaps a bit too much, and loses something in the process. The eternal bane of drum production rears it's ugly head, and the snare has some characteristics of an empty 18 liter paint can. Otherwise we could be talking about the Impact Part II here. Which, in my opinion, is not a bad subject. I like the whole, and since the band retains the onslaught worthy of a thrash-panzer division, I don't have too many complaints. This is thrash, not too refined and angry enough.
The limited 5000 copies with the DVD included contain 17 live tracks and a single video. I've never understood the appeal of a live video, and this DVD does nothing to correct my opinion; to enjoy a live performance I need things like sweat, a few beers to drink in the right company and atmosphere, some mild-to-average physical impacts, and a bass sound that makes my puny love-handles resonate. You'd need one hell of a home theater to produce even the last one of those things, and rest are virtually unachievable at home. But I had to take a look, and... well.
The band is technically nearly perfect live. After the first batch of five or six songs the mixing turns closer to garage-quality noisiness, and that does not work with this level of musicianship; these guys are good enough to have a perfect, crisp sound, there are no mistakes to cover up. They also have pretty convincing style and an angry look on stage. I'm sorry, but I still find watching such material outside the gig itself redundant. I guess I'll just forget the DVD (in the rating, too).
In the end, what we have here is a good album, made by utilizing a tested process and recipes we have seen before. There's nothing that could be considered groundbreaking anymore, but the result is a good, solid thrash album. Maybe it's gone down a notch since Impact, but it's still worth getting. And so, if Impact is worth 89%, this will amount to 83%. On the next album, however, Dew-Scented must come up with something new, otherwise they will fade into the gray masses.
BTW, what is wrong with the audiences in the live clips? A band this good, thrashing the crap out of a bunch of places, and at times the crowd seems like they're watching Nightwish perform The Sleeping Sun. Blah. Either the Germans are a bunch of stiffs with premature rigor mortis, or the gigs take place in hospitals for paraplegics. Bang your heads, people, and move around a little, it might even feel good. Bruises in thrash fans are like bulletholes in green berets, they prove you've actually been there.