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Another fury wolverine playing his blues? - 83%

dismember_marcin, February 9th, 2011

There are two things, which you should know before listening to Furbowl albums… First is the fact that this Swedish band had the worst moniker EVER in the history of death metal music and secondly, this is what Johan Liiva was doing before he joined the more famous Arch Enemy (note that he also participated in early creations of Carnage… shit, ain’t that man a legend??). Music wise though Furbowl hasn’t got anything in common with the bands I just mentioned.

If you’ll ever listen to the great “The Nightfall of your Heart” demo you may find cool, slightly progressive way of playing death metal there; definitely the music on this tape was very original and different, with some really weird melodies or annoying keyboards he, he! “Those Shredded Dreams” gives you basically the same, as Furbowl has re-recorded three of the demo songs on it, re-arranging some bits of the songs, but mostly keeping their character. New tracks from the other hand are something totally different and even more challenging to the death metal listener. So, what do we get instead then? Well, if anyone calls Entombed a father of so called death’n’roll, he may have to change his opinion, because Furbowl on their 1992 debut LP played that style already! Yes! And it does sound so naturally, fresh and is full of dense energy that the album is like a hard kick in the arse!

Surely Furbowl members have been listening the same bands Entombed did at the time and it’s quite intriguing that both came up with such music – although mind that “Wolverine Blues” was released a year later! This music still has a strong death metal base of course, in this case I would say it was Entombed’s “Clandestine” first and foremost. But that is completed by the rock riffing (Johan has cited The Cure as one of their biggest influences) – you could bring also such doomy bands as Black Sabbath or The Cult here; whatever – Furbowl simply has this strange mushroomy feeling he, he. Anyway, the effect is absolutely brilliant I think and the album is one damn good listening.

The opener, “Damage Done” is 9,5 minute long, vicious and aggressive track with many catchy fragments and a bit progressive middle part that brings to memory those slow, keyboard based fragments from their debut demo. Despite its length, “Damage Done” isn’t too complex, this song is quite simple actually but has a lot of energy and definitely is the most energetic from the album. I really like the solo and that epic riff that follows it! “Those Shredded Dreams” has just six songs and three of them are re-recorded / re-arranged compositions from the demo. “Nothing Forever” is first of them and it’s a bit faster and more straight forward track, but again has a lovely melodic solo in the middle part, that would make Entombed guys jealous. That song (its structure, etc) has been changed from the original a bit, but only for better.

“Razorblades” starts with a bluesy bass-played motif, which with those weird clean vocals makes rather disturbing impression. The song transforms into very slow, doom-like composition, but surely it’ the weirdest of all the songs from Furbowl debut full length. One may ask what have they smoked while recording this song he, he… Or maybe it’s just classic doom metal influence that inspired their psyches?

Another demo song is “Desertion” and it is actually one of my favourites from the album. It’s very simple and short, but has a great feeling and chorus. Last demo song is called “Sharkheaven” – song with the worst lyrics EVER in the history of death metal; inspired by the movie “Jaws” (not “Jews” hehe) and sharks, it’s really hilarious to read “down at Miami Beach, nothing is out of reach for the great white beast waiting for it’s feast”… Ha, ha what a clever poetry. But music wise I love this track; it’s almost classic Swedish DM tune, slightly melodic, mid paced and with brilliant riffs and vocal parts. And it proves that it was good decision to get these demo songs re-recorded on the full length. They’ve got a proper production now and sound really great. To some point, the band got rid of some of those weirdest ideas they had, made these songs bit simpler, but more catchy. And that’s good.

And finally the closing title track comes, which is another great epic of the album. During its seven minutes you’ll find many various parts, including an outro played on "(satanic) violin (of doom – ha, ha!!!)" and very progressive riffs played with the accompanying of keyboards. This song will show you how different Furbowl was from the majority of other Swedish death metal bands. Actually at many fragments you may ask yourself if they’re death metal band at all?! But definitely this album has its charm, sense of humor and is worthy having in the collection; even despite that awful front cover. I must recommend it to all Entombed fans; I’m sure they’ll find Furbowl as interesting and surprising.

You may find getting the first pressing of “Those Shredded Dreams” difficult or too expensive; in that case I recommend buying the re-release from VIC Records, with some additional tracks. But a real jewel in my collection is limited to 500 copies vinyl pressing from THE CRYPT Productions, with three LPs; one includes the album, another has two demos from 1991 and 1992 and the third vinyl has got promo 1993, Venom cover and live recordings. Not all songs have the best sound quality, but all together it is one of the best released compilation vinyls I’ve ever got (did I mention three panel gatefold with many old band pictures, alternative front cover, bio, lyrics, old interviews and fuckin huge poster???). That is a real feast for Swedish death metal maniac / collector. Recommended!

Not a Huge Standout, but Good Nonetheless - 75%

ImpureSoul, July 11th, 2010

Back before Johan Liiva was in Arch Enemy, he and drummer Max Thornell (who would later get back together to form Hearse) got into a band called Furbowl. They weren’t around for long, and they weren’t recognized at all when they were around, but surprisingly enough, released a solid debut album. The album is called “Those Shredded Dreams” and it’s the only Furbowl I’ve heard, since their stuff is pretty hard to come by.

The overall sound of the album is extremely dense, and really heavy. The production is pretty good considering the band is new, with the bass high up in the mix and adding to the dense feeling.

The first song begins with a strange intro that reminds me of one of those off-key interludes that are at the beginning of every song from The Seven Harmonies of the Unknown Truth album by Ildjarn. It breaks suddenly into a fast riff of extremely down tuned and distorted guitars. You quickly get hit with a sort of wall of sound that crushes and dominates. It quickly becomes clear that this band isn’t a cheap knock-off of another band like so many bands today are. For a band from ’91, these guys really know how to make that heavy sound. That’s pretty much what the album is; a heavy crushing sound of awesome riffs that are genuinely heavy metal. The only problem with the first song is the length. I’ve listened to plenty of songs longer than this one, but it does drag on a little too much. It does have a nice solo section and a lot of good riffs to make up for it though.

The next song is Nothing Forever, my definite favorite on the album. A fast tempo and catchy, and Johan Liiva’s vocals are much more understandable, but it still has that heavy feel that only heavy bass can bring. The wall of sound is reduced from the last song, but it’s still present. The highlight of this song is the solo section from 1:50 to 2:55. It’s really great, starting off slow and moving into a melodic speed solo. Best of all, unlike a lot of death metal at the time, it isn’t all over the place. It relates more to Iron Maiden and bands like that than it does to Cannibal Corpse or Slayer, and it perfectly compliments the song. Of course that’s what you’d expect, because, looking at the credits, you’ll see that Michael Amott of Arch Enemy and Carcass, wrote the solo in this song.

Razorblades starts off with a good bass riff, but the clean vocals from Liiva are a little strange, although I guess I am used to them, being familiar with Johan Liiva’s later band Hearse. The song is overall a lot slower than both of the previous songs, but it’s a good song and sets a break in the feel of the rest of them.

The next two songs aren’t all that different from each other, mainly differing in lyrical content and the riffs. They don’t match the standard of the other songs for sure. Desertion is a really quick verse-chorus-verse-chorus song that ends in less than 3 minutes. Sharkheaven has a slightly faster tempo, and I prefer it to the last one because I like the riffs better in this one, since they feel more 80’s hard rock oriented. There’s also a little solo in this one, and a few riff differentiations towards the end.

The title song is another good one, probably my other favorite on this album. It starts with a cool bass solo in the introduction and falls into a mid-tempo song that picks up in speed at the chorus. There are some softer guitar interludes and sections of bass accompanied by keyboard in there, which lets the song progress and it doesn’t feel like it drags on in the end. The wall of sound feel is there again, although not quite like it was in the first song. It comes to a close with a solo from the “Satanic Violin of Doom” (no kidding, that’s what it’s referred to in the credits of the CD booklet). It’s a good way to end a good album, and although there are only 6 songs in the whole thing, and the total length of the album is only 31 minutes, it doesn’t feel very short. I know that somewhere out there is a version with a bonus CD of the band’s live material and demo material, but I’ve never seen it before, so I’m not going to include the songs that are on it.

Despite all the positives I’ve mentioned, there’s one big thing about this album that drags it through the mud really fast, and that’s the fact that, when looking back at the album, the sound of each song doesn’t quite differ as much as you’d like it to. While the songs do differ a lot in tempo, I guess Those Shredded Dreams comes off as a little bit monotonous. Really, that’s the only thing that holds this album back from being great. Maybe it’s partly owed to the fact that Liiva’s vocals aren’t quite as ranged or as passionate as they were in his later bands, or the fact that everyone in the band is quite young and inexperienced. It’s still a pretty good album, though. If you want to hear Johan Liiva in all his bands, then I say don’t pass this up. It isn’t his best album out there, but it’s certainly pretty good.

Originally posted on spirit-of-metal.com under the name InfinityZero.