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Claws > Absorbed in the Nethervoid > Reviews
Claws - Absorbed in the Nethervoid

And so we doom on - 82%

iamntbatman, June 30th, 2013

Claws is the straight old-school Swedeath worship project of one Lasse Pyykkö of Hooded Menace. Try as he might to emulate the old Stockholm masters, this album serves as a prime example of an artist being wholly unable to completely divorce himself from his artistic upbringing and particular creative leanings. Specifically, the melodic tendencies on Absorbed in the Nethervoid have an undeniably Finnish flavor to them that dates them – they're clearly riffs built with the benefit of hindsight. Second, Lasse's more doomish leanings make this thing creep and crawl along more menacingly than Entombed or Dismember ever would have. These aren't faults, really, but strengths, helping this album elevate itself beyond mere rehash and nearer to the upper echelons of the retro-Swedeath movement that was so popular a few years ago.

Most obviously, Lasse makes use of the exact same vocal style here as he does in Hooded Menace. It's a breathy, decrepit roar that is simply too long-winded to fit into the same role as the rapid fire barkings of LG Petrov and Matti Karki. While it's certainly possible to use a slower vocal delivery over faster riffing, there's a limit to everything. While there is some blasting here and there (the intro to “Macabre Manifestations”), the general tempo doesn't often exceed a few degrees slower than what was standard in Sunlight Studios. Over everything, Lasse's gurgling issues forth like swamp mist. While it lacks some of the gritty punch of his Swedish influences, it has an added sense of occult dread that fundamentally alters the mood of the music. These aren't angry tirades against the pompously self-righteous or bloodthirsty orations of gore-soaked murder, these are swamp-rituals meant for raising the dead.

That atmosphere is reflected in the riffing, too. With obvious exceptions (the intro to “Skeletal Reincarnation” could've been a Clandestine outtake), the riffing, especially the tremolo melodies, are almost more Demigod or Purtenance than they are blatantly Swedish. Another point of reference might be fellow countrymen Slugathor, though without any of the obvious Bolt Thrower-isms. Perhaps Desecresy is a bit closer. There's also a good bit of gurgling doom stuffed into these compact tunes, with plenty of lurching, crawling monstrosities between the faster bits. It's almost like miniature Hooded Menace tunes bridging the more violent bits.

Even the guitar tone is like some fuzzed-out bastard of Stockholm and Helsinki. There's some HM-2 character there, but it's bassier and thicker, with its violence expressed less as slicing dismemberment and more as suffocating murk. It works as well as it does because the pacing is generally slow enough to accommodate it; if the riffing was much faster I think the amorphousness of the guitar tone would render everything too indistinct to really appreciate (funny enough, this was the exact problem with actual old-school Swedeath band Interment's recent outing, which had such massive chainsaw tone that you couldn't tell what the fuck was going on during the faster bits).

This album was also released at a key time in Lasse's career, sandwiched directly between the first two Hooded Menace albums. While everything on this record is clearly carefully crafted, and there's nary a moment to be found where the riffs are anything less than solid, I think it's clear that his heart and mind were too strongly tied to the doomier side of things as of this album's creation. He couldn't help but insert his death/doom-isms into Swedeath tunes, as good as those results turned out, but since the second Hooded Menace album is such a refined, amplified take on the first it seems that's where he wanted to be putting his real effort. The guy's too talented for this to sound really half-assed, but even though I generally prefer the Swedish brand of brutality to slower approaches, this album really works best when viewed as a tasty appetizer for the more monolithic Hooded Menace sophomore. As such, it can't really compete with truly fantastic realizations of Stockholm's former glory like the Tribulation debut, which manages to embrace the Sunlight sound fully while making it their own. While Tribulation played Swedeath on that album, Claws merely cover it on Absorbed in the Nethervoid. I can think of much, much worse ways to play the style than as Hooded Menace, though.