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Above all else, Down Among the Dead Men rip. This album comes in with a wallop of blistering uncompromised fury and never really lets up. Spewing venomous chunks of vitriol, this self titled debut is a definite scorcher. They’ve come on to a good thing with their muscular mix of death metal and crust punk. With just thirty minutes for thirteen raging songs, this record never has time to grow tiresome. Although there’s not a huge amount of variation between tracks, the highly capable songwriting and on point riffs are definitely enough to carry this.
Down Among the Dead Men features a familiar cast of characters. Most notably, it features Dave Ingram, who handled vocals for Benidiction and was brought in for a brief stint in Bolt Thrower. Also in the lineup is the prolific-to-a-fault Rogga Johansson, who appears to perform in at least a quarter of mediocre Swedish death metal bands. This is one of the projects where he’s seemed to hit a rare home run. The production is essential to allowing them to come out swinging. It’s big, relatively thick and allows the riffs to truly beat down in a glorious fury. It should be noted that although these guys consistently sound angry, they are not completely opposed to dropping down to a more moderate pace.
Stylistically, this is a pretty even mix of death metal and crust punk. This draws from countless crust classics, but one of the lesser known bands these dudes seem to take influence from is Resistant Culture (minus the Native American influences, obviously). For death metal, it also draws from a lot of the classics and more than anything goes for the huge riffs. The occasional solo (these tend to be more varied than the rest of the record) does creep in. The drums are straightforward and unrelenting. The throaty growls are strong, although not completely unintelligible. Songwriting is not glossed over at all here. In this area they draw perhaps a bit more from the crust punk side of things. “As Leeches Gorge” is a spectacular success on this front.
Mashing up crust and death metal is a killer idea, and one that more bands should try their hand in it. Down among the Dead Men go for the simpler approach and just let it rip in a display of unrepentant violence. They rush straight towards the jugular and refuse to relinquish pressure. They do one thing, but they do it well and without compromise. This is a successful album in a very interesting mix of styles.
Originally written for The Metal Observer.