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Old School and twisted - 95%

sacha1, February 20th, 2011

Thanks to Spotify I've been discovering zillions of bands and side projects I'd never heard of. Most of the time there's a good reason why I'd never heard of them, but every so often I'll find a true gem of an album that I'll want to share with anyone who'll listen -- and this is one.

The dominant sound here is old Floridian death metal: Morbid Angel, Monstrosity etc. Not surprisingly given the band's heritage there's also plenty of black metal flavour too, not so much as to derail the old school death metal vibe but nevertheless giving it some differentiation from those old bands.

The album manages to have a real occult, evil vibe to it. The production is cavernous and echoey making the excellent drums particularly thunderous. The guitars are slithering and twisty, each offering its own little flourishes and squeals rather than plodding away in unison like most death metal these days. The vocal incantations are of the low but raspy sort rather than full-on cookie monster, so you can actually latch on to some of the lyrics.

But the thing that really makes this a cut above the rest is that the songs are well crafted and memorable from the first listen. Every time a song ends and you're debating whether or not to play it again, the next one kicks in and you remember that it's just as cool. In that respect it really does remind me of the old death metal albums.

I'd disagree with other reviewers that this is the weaker of Soul Reaper's two albums. The second album is a much faster, cleaner, and clinical affair. If you prefer modern, post-black death metal with lots of blastbeats and black metal tremolo riffing, then maybe it'll tick more of your boxes. But for me Written In Blood is the real deal, chewy and massive, corrupt death metal that makes you want to go and surrender your entrails to the Ancient Ones.

A rare modern classic.