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suffers from predictability but still good - 80%

morbert, February 13th, 2009

When I first heard the album, I loved it immediately. Finally another typical Dead Head release! But we all know, with time comes wisdom. And how does one look back on an album after a few years when it has taken its spot between other releases and aged a bit. I can conclude it's a good album but far from brilliant.

'Faust II' has the potential of a Dead Head classic. The beginning is unequalled, relentless and characteristically furious. However the song loses a lot of bite during the slower last part en never picks up again. 'Montana' is quite a bland song with a decent chorus but it takes 2 minutes before it speeds up and gains some momentum before falling flat on its face again. This also has a lot to do with its place on the album (second song!) and could have made more sense somewhere in the middle when the average listener might use some cooling down. But not this early on the album!

The intro of 'Last Server Down' reminds me more of some ancient Michael Amott/Carcass ideas than Dead Head but still is amusing. The rest of the song however is pretty dull, overly mid paced with a bland chorus. One gets the feeling by now the band can't pull of writing quality doomers and pounders anymore like they used on 'In Your Room' and half of the Dream Deceiver album. Also closer 'Nosferatu' is one of the lesser good faster songs with ideas refering too much to Kreator-leftovers and Testament (the riff at 2:50 is marvellous though!). This album deserves a better closing song really.

Fortunately there's plenty old school Dead Head left to make this album once again an enjoyable trip. 'Phantom Palace', 'Serial Divorce', 'Dog God' (brilliant chorus!), 'Supreme Forgery' and 'Desire' are all excellent typical Dead Head thrashers and fortunately on these songs the fast and slower parts sound more fluid and natural. Just like opener 'Faust II', 'Mesfeken' is one of the best songs here and the over-neurotic riffs and drums recall the days of their first 1989 live tape. Quite an ultrathrasher with some of those typical Dead Head breaks, holding back a bit before continuing the assault. Yet once again in the middle of the song the pace is taken down and by now this method is starting to become formulaic and annoyingly predictable. All in all this is one of the best songs here, but because of the repetiveness of the formula throughout most of the songs, it tampers the enjoyment. Best listen to songs like these individually to achieve maximum enjoyability.

Yes, there's plenty of pure Dead Head enjoyment here. The sound is good (except for the cymbals, which often are too prominent), the album cover, the fast(er) songs. But there are just too many identic formulaic song structures and their slower material isn't always equally convincing. It's a good album, but I did expect more.