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I saw these guys live opening for Dimmu Borgir some years ago, right when this CD was released and live they killed! I actually thought for a moment that I was experiencing the second coming of Slayer. Little did I know. So when I bought this CD I was eagerly looking forward to a severe thrashing and instead got...meh.
First of all, Tue Madsen is absolutely overrated as a producer. This album sounds weak and tinny with a cardboard drum sound, and I was dismayed to hear this utter lack of sound quality. At least with black metal they have an excuse for sounding awful in their slavish quest to replicate the old school early 80s sound of its progenitors in an effort to create "atmosphere". But this...at least a good thick guitar tone, a better drum sound, and even some low end would've saved that aspect of the album. However, it sounds like a demo more than an actual professional caliber album, so points deleted for that alone.
The music is disappointingly weak and generic,and lacks the intensity they exhibited live. In fact, it is not terribly intense at all when you listen to it minus the adrenaline high of a live show. Marco Aro's vocals are weak and one-dimensional screeches that show he's listened to a lot of Pantera albums in his vain attempts at sounding like (the equally-overrated) Phil Anselmo. His low spoken parts here and there redeem him slightly, but not enough. The Bjorler brothers are disappointing too, with the guitar work being uninspired and overly restrained in an attempt to be "melodic" and the bass nonexistent as always, but even more so. Per-Moller Jensen's drumming is strong, but is sabotaged by Madsen's incompetence in the studio a la Rick Rubin's sorry excuse for production on "South of Heaven". Overall, whoever thinks this album is anything resembling inspired or even good is deceiving themselves. And yes, they do sound totally Swedish--after all, most of the band WAS only in At The Gates, the most copied band ever these days, so they can't help but sound that way.
In short, this band is terribly overrated and I'm sorry in retrospect that I bought this album. It is a waste of the Bjorler brothers' time in trying to continue what is often deemed a good thing (did I mention I think ATG are overrated too?) and watering it down for mass consumption. Even though they are competent players--hence the OK rating--this is a waste of time and money ultimately. If you want real thrash, get you some Destruction, old or new, and you'll see what the real dela is.