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Solid, crushing Danish death metal - 87%

enigmatech, November 21st, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, CD, Huangquan Records (Limited edition)

Released in 1993, Four Depressive Seasons was the debut album by Danish death metal mainstay Illdisposed. On this album, the band was still very much a pure-blooded, old school death metal band, of the mid-paced, crushing variety...mostly taking cues from the likes of Bolt Thrower and Obituary, though some Morbid Angel and Deicide influence can easily be discerned in the aggressive, churning riffwork. While I'm not going to sit here and argue that this album is a genre-defining masterpiece on the level of Left Hand Path or Cause of Death, it's really great - among the best ever offered by Denmark's small yet effective death metal scene (sitting alongside the likes of Dorval, View to the Dim, and of course the almighty Serenadium) and most certainly well deserving of the term "classic" - highly recommended for anyone looking for lesser-known bands in this general style.

The best way to describe the riffs on here are "catchy" and "powerful". The riffs here pack a serious punch (the verse riff to "Reversed") while also being serious earworms that really stick with you. There's a lot of variety as well...though mostly leaning on the slower end of the spectrum, you get a lot of faster, thrashier stuff as well and even some obvious Morbid Angel influence (that first riff to "Life Equals Zero") which is pretty rare in this brand of death metal. The songwriting and composition is mostly pretty good - though ebbing on the longer end of the spectrum, the songs have a lot of unique twists and turns that keep things interesting and it never feels boring ("Never Ceasing Melancholic Spring" being prime example of this).

As with all Illdisposed, the star of the show here is vocalist Bo Summer, whose iconic growl is utterly monstrous. The infamous "sub woofer" effect he later became known for isn't used here (at least, it's not as apparent as it usually is) but you won't notice because he truly sounds like a beast that crawled out of hell. Unlike later albums, which tended to deal with personal issues and other "real life" topics, the lyrics on Four Depressive Seasons are more poetic...mostly centered around Satanism and occultism, although with a bit of the dry, snarky humor the band later became known for (one track has the lyric "My soul has a file on hell's computer"). Personally, I really like this lyrical approach and it's a shame they didn't continue with it for later releases.

Speaking of that humor...the biggest turnoff for many will likely be the comedic intros, which appear in a few songs. In one track, we hear the sound of a child singing and laughing before being slapped by the devil, who then says something in Danish. A bit weird, but not too bad...then you get to the album closer, the awesomely titled "With the Lost Souls on Our Side" (a title so cool they later reused it for an album)...which opens with the sound of a man fucking a goat while again, screaming something in Danish...and then again at the end of the track there's some more weird Danish shit and the album ends. This has always been a trend for Illdisposed, with most of their albums having some kind of intro in Danish like this - joke songs or other weird stuff...in this case, it's a bit jarring at first but not too bad as the song itself does rule....and they've certainly done worse (all the members' exposed buttholes in the Submit booklet, for example).

Overall, this is a solid album and definitely has a rightful place in the collection of anyone who considers himself a true old school death metal maniac. If you're looking to pick up a copy, go for the new Huangquan Records version which restores the (much cooler) original artwork and mastering (I also own the Diehard Music edition and it's totally brickwalled and kind of a pain to listen to), along with featuring the band's early demos as a bonus.