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Porridge, and some other tested recipes - 83%

Napero, October 15th, 2005

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.