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I must admit that I got this album pretty late, only two or three years ago when I finally managed to buy it somewhere on E-bay. But before that I was damn anxious about this CD. I knew Furbowl's debut demo and the brilliant "Those Shredded Dreams" LP already... But I also got to know the rehearsal recording from 1993 as well as fantastic "Promo 1993". These two unofficial releases were slightly different musically, brought some new ideas into Furbowl's music and so that's why I wasn't sure what to expect from "The Autumnal Years". Considering what the 1993 songs were like, it was hell of a lot risky and difficult task to guess what music did Mr Liiva and the band serve on their second full length. Will it be yet a continuation of the debut LP’s death’n’roll style or maybe they'll present more progressive sound, comparable to what I found on the 1993 recordings?
By the way, it’s ultimately shame that the mysterious EP that Furbowl recorded in 1992 never has been released and thus these songs remain unknown. Anyway, let’s listen to “The Autumnal Years” CD. I first looked at the booklet and must say that it all looks really cool. Maybe I don't like the front cover that much (which by the way is a screen shot from Furbowl's video they did for the song "Desertion"), but inside it's all better as I like when I can find some band pictures, drawings or lyrics... The booklet for "The Autumnal Years" has it all.
The album itself starts with groovy “Bury the Hatchet” and it's something that Entombed would easily put on “Wolverine Blues” - really good song, which is followed by fairly melodic (with some slights of classic Swedish death metal melodies, not so aggressive, more groovy though) song called “Cruel World”, which also has some brilliant heavy slow riffing and fabulous solo parts. Then we’ve got fantastic “Dead & Gone”, which I already know from the rehearsal and promotional recordings.
And this song is the first real surprise of "The Autumnal Years". It's quite progressive tune and remains one of my favourite tracks, despite the obvious gothic influences in it - I must say it reminds me not only Entombed, but also Cemetary from "Godless Beauty" album. This track has great dark mood, especially when the violin plays - really original and good pattern. But this is not the only song that went so forth into experimental and progressive style. The other one is “Stabbed”, where the violin appears again, but what I like there is how nicely placed are those gothic / progressive parts between some truly crushing, fast riffing.
The album has even more surprises and unconventional stuff, like that short instrumental played on acoustic guitar, which is followed by “Still Breathing” – great song, very calm and quiet, with an acoustic base and keyboards in some fragments, as well as clean vocals accompanying the developed growling. It’s almost surprising to finish the album this way, as the gothic elements are definitely superior in it.
Apart from that, "The Autumnal Years" also brings the songs, which fit more the style from debut full length. They're great energetic and moshable death'rollish tunes that make my head bang and heart beat like crazy. But even these tracks like “Weakened” and “Baby Burn” are rather slow, with bluesy riffs (!!) and so they’re not as aggressive as the opener "Bury the Hatchet" for instance. They're still great though, so no complains here!
As you can see, it all completes a highly enjoyable and memorable album, which is as varied and original as early death metal LPs could and even betters the debut. There are many splendid moments and FURBOWL simply proved to be one of the most original Swedish acts of the time. Sadly Furbowl never got the attention they deserved and the musical differences soon led to the departure of the founding member and mastermind Johan Liiva and then to the name change and end of Furbowl. Luckily we still have these few recordings of the band that will remain classic and pioneering Swedish death’n’roll tunes.