GrandThis band has been around for 13 years, having previously operated under the names of Vicious, Rage Anthem and Wargasm. It sounds like an identity crisis but I guess they have their reasons. The identity in any case is clear as this is a band from Sweden who play a mix of death and thrash metal. That in itself is normally a mark of quality.

Sure enough, the ingredients are fine. The riffs are ok, the technique is without reproach but it’s not adventurous to the point of breaking through barriers. So one track leads to the next and there hadn’t been a gap in between, I’d have missed this fact. “The Christian God is broke and dead”, barks out the singer on the underwhelming “Judgement of the Dead”, as if giving a harangue. This is supported by a bizarre chorus and seemingly unrelated instrumental ramble around it. It doesn’t work. It gets better when the band’s melodic thrash side comes out more on “Kingdom of Emptiness”, which has a nice mid-point break and mixes it up a bit, and the Mercenary-like “Genetic Greed” but what I heard overall was a tired version of Carnal Forge or The Forsaken. The technical background work seems to go on, unrelated to anything else and it’s all just a mess. It’s strange to say that a work of this style should have so little energy. A clinical approach to the song-writing seems to have knocked the spirit out of this album. So I listened to it and felt nothing. I listened again … nothing. I re-played it … still nothing. I even turned the sound up and still nothing was happening around me. Even after five times of listening to “The Dead Justifies the Means” it was leaving me indifferent.

So let’s give the band’s side of the story: “Pleasing and catchy, unconventional, peculiar, suspense-packed hymns which are presented as a mix of vibrant death metal and comprehensive progressive rock”. Progressive rock? Mixed up perhaps, but it comes across as none of pleasing, catchy or vibrant. Then I read claims about “innovative and melodic extreme metal” and “groundbreaking vocals and lyrics … (which) will get your attention again and again”. Melody is at a premium in what is maybe the attempt to create that innovative sound. I listened to the words but didn’t find anything interesting there. In fact I came to the conclusion that “The Dead Justifies the Means” is an attempt to achieve all these claims but whether it’s the excessive search for innovation or simply a lack of innovation, it doesn’t go anywhere and was some distance from giving me any sort of buzz.

(3 /10 Andrew Doherty)