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Cum on feel the noize - 65%

Drowned, September 13th, 2009

Broken Fear released a number of tapes during their brief tenure in the early 1990's. By my count, this is demo #3 and one would have a reasonable expectation that any problems or shortcomings that tarnished the previous releases would be resolved the third time around. Right? Well, maybe in Broken Fear's case this was expecting too much as this 3-song tape from 1991 is quite a disappointment.

It should be noted first that the band does display some talent on this recording which is reflected in their song-writing abilities, executed instrumentation and overall delivery. Those elements are all there. The problem is, rarely on this tape can one actually make out what is going on musically. The soulless 4-tracker production job here is so terrible that it nearly renders everything unlistenable.

To adequately deliver mid-tempo atmospheric death metal, generally a specific type of production is not required as different bands express themselves through different sound. With that being said, the production job that you absolutely do not want for this style of death metal is what's heard on this release. Faint, buzzsaw-like guitars, a complete lack of audible bass and paper-thin drumming with a snare that sounds like fingernails tapping on plastic plates. All of this amounts to a sound more suited for 'bedroom' black metal and noisy basement grindcore than this type of music.

As if their tone itself was not painful enough, the drums are elevated so high in the mix that they just about completely drown out the stringed instruments whenever the music speeds up. It's only during the slower sections of these songs, as in the middle of 'Trapped', where one can truly hear some actual riffs and melodies. The vocals are probably the best part of the recording - deep, haunting growls with a slight reverb effect in addition to some eerie whispering. They sit firmly in the mix and stand out among the rehearsal-like noise lurking in the background. The 'screams' from the back-up vocalist are totally fucking unnecessary, however.

Although the band shows potential, I would not recommend this demo to anybody because of the terrible production. You'd be better off finding a copy of the split tape with Occult.