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Too much inbreeding - 60%

gasmask_colostomy, June 11th, 2018

It’s a well-known fact that the Swedish melodic metal scene is a hotbed of cross-pollination and sharing members, as well as being a breeding ground for the genre. Hell, the Stockholm and Gothenburg sounds are even listed on Wikipedia as one of the country’s major exports, so that’s got to count for something. Sometimes, the multiple projects of key players in the scene are a blessing because skilled musicians may not feel the need to restrict their talents to a single style, but instead share the bounty of their labours with fruits of melodeath, death, thrash, and plain old heavy metal. As you’ve no doubt guessed, The Resistance is one of those projects, though their members are culprits of the misuse of this privilege of interbreeding.

Like the sucker that I am, I bought an album made by current and ex-members of The Haunted, In Flames, Witchery, Grave, and many others. There’s an obvious message in that because none of these men have been involved in any truly great music for some time now, though Christofer Barkensjö has been helping Witchery regain some credibility from their satanic speed roots. I liken Coup de Grâce to Dimension Zero, which also featured ex-In Flames guitarists Jesper Strömblad and Glenn Ljungström and peddled similarly direct and aggressive deathly thrash. Sure, perhaps Dimension Zero were closer to the melodeath side of things and The Resistance features an ounce more of that Swedish sound of chunky thrash, such as Darkane and Carnal Forge, that has soaked up the amp settings of old school Stockholm death. When the five-piece slow to a crushing mid-pace, such as on ‘Death Blow’, this is strongly reminiscent of what The Crown produced on Doomsday King. Of course, with Marco Aro’s eternal hardened shout dominating proceedings (sorry guys, another Swedish supergroup that doesn’t like solos) there are also obvious comparisons to The Haunted circa One Kill Wonder, but without the sense of gleeful abandon to wreaking havoc and all its consequences.

To expand that last statement, one never gets the feeling with Coup de Grâce that anyone has really cut lose and come close to the edge of their abilities, which is what one might hope for from any supergroup. Apart from not pushing one another to their limits, The Resistance also don’t think very far outside their own sphere of influence, sounding content to rehash marginally more deathly versions of the riffs that made them Wikipedia entries in the first place. Factor in a bunch of 12 similar-sounding songs (‘Death March’ is an obligatory introduction) averaging out at exactly three minutes apiece and the sense of disappointment is almost palpable. The cherry on the top of the frustrating cake is clearly the total reluctance of the guitarists to play leads, which I feel is the biggest insult to my expectations of the album. These are, after all, the pair that crafted In Flames' The Jester Race.

Rest assured, however, that this isn’t quite as bad as I’ve been making out, since after all The Resistance have left us with some serviceable death metal that drags Grave and Entombed classics into the current decade with vigour and a smattering of meaty riffs, the marginal pick of which can be found on ‘I Welcome Death’, ‘Enslavement’, and ‘Death Blow’. Credit also to the group for not overdoing these songs at all, since constraining good musicians to short cuts is more difficult than one might expect, so the precept of maximum attack is carried out from beginning to end of Coup de Grâce. Then again, this isn’t likely to attract too many fans beyond those who - like me - are dragged in by the appeal of the names involved.

-- May Diamhea's feat of 100 reviews in 7 days remain unbeaten --