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A big excavator on a barge - 52%

Napero, May 31st, 2008

Dew-Scented is known mostly for their rabidly speedy semi-melodic death-thrash, refined to a fine point on the album Impact , and slightly overdone on the works following it, but the band's debut, Immortelle , is quite a different beast. The band does not speed their way through the 47 minutes, and the thrash is just a minor spice in the more earthly, crushing death metal. Compared to the band's better-known works, Immortelle is slow, mechanical, and... clumsy?

The music is essentially closer to old, slow-to-medium-tempo death metal than thrash. While there are fast parts, the mental afterimage imprinted on the mind after hearing the album is mostly from the slow sections that resemble a russian T-35 tank attempting to cross a frozen marsh more than the tuned BMW sans a muffler they later turned into. Actually, some parts are so slow and crushing that the piece of machinery that springs to mind is one of those big excavators mounted on a barge and used for shallow water dredging. They slowly dip the humongous scoop into the water, raise it full of mud and sand, the hundreds of gallons of muddy water splashing around, and, without hurrying, turn to drop the load off on another barge. Then they repeat the movements, moving enormous amounts of dirty, wet soil in the process, but looking like they do very little; each scoopful takes a while. There is a sense of purpose, but the real action takes place under the water, and to a casual and ignorant observer, it seems that the big, slow machine does practically nothing very slowly. There is some noise, patient movements repeated to infinity with little visible results, a lot of mud, and a slick of dirty water gradually spreading around the barge. And that's pretty much it, unless the observer knows what the real purpose of the action is.

The music on Immortelle is rude, repulsive, and somewhat boring. There are no catchy tracks - not that death metal would need to be catchy in any sense - and the tempo is numbing, the vocals somewhere between brutal and corny, and the rest just forgettable. The slowness is overwhelming, and the aggression found here is more like that of an enraged oxen than a raging panther, an axe wielding barbarian, or a power metal jet fighter. The metal is crushing, heavy, and slow-moving to a point of being an ancient, sluggish archosaur with its two-ton bulk, rather than the vicious velociraptor the band turned into a few years later. The production supports the whole, and approaches the bare-bones rudeness of typical sludge every now and then; the later works have been fine-tuned productionwise, and on Immortelle, the sound is so grumpy that recognizing the band is virtually impossible for someone who has only heard Issue VI era Dew-Scented.

Immortelle should perhaps be seen as a curiosity from the band's early history rather than an album worth getting for the sake of the music. It perfectly proves the idea that a band's first studio album can be more of an excercise in album-making than a work that has already been finished and polished and intended to be simply copied in the future. The album is not bad, it's simply too numbing in its slow, crushing, dredging heaviness. Here the heaviness is of the wrong kind, and a listener who finds himself numb enough to hope that the album would end sooner is unlikely to spin it again soon. Dew-Scented made the right choice when they turned themselves into a Porche instead.

For Dew-Scented completionists and people who like mediocre slow death metal only.