What do you want from old school Swedish death metal? Well I for one want a tasty blend of brutality & catchiness. I want howling vocals, meaty riffs, fuzzy guitars and pounding drums with a hint of D-beat. Vomitory, Entrails, Dismember, Entombed, Grave – they’re the bands I think of. Swedish death metal is awesome and as good as our USDM bands are they can never quite capture that Scandinavian vibe can they? WRONG!
Black Breath has had a fair old stab at it but, as good as they are (and that’s very) they just missed the bulls-eye for me, which is where Sentient Horror comes in. I say come in, it’s more like they blow your front door off its fucking hinges, lob in a couple of stun grenades and machine gun the shit out of you with groove laden riff bullets!
This is a killer album, so authentic that even death metal overlord Dan Swano thinks Sentient Horror are “One of the best SweDeath projects I have come across in 20 years. The perfect blend of all the highlights from the Swedish scene from 89 to 91. Truly awesome!” And he should know. So where did this New Jersey lot appear from?
The band (then named ‘Sentience’) was formed in 2014 by lead guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Matt Moliti (ex-Dark Empire), his goal was always to play early 90s Stockholm death metal. After his demo got a great response Matt, a music teacher, got hold of a couple of his super capable ex-students and put together a line up for live gigs. A digital only single release featuring tracks ‘Splinter The Cross’ & ‘A Host Of Worms’ (both tracks feature on this album) was released last July. A name change followed and, having been picked up by Testimony Records, this their debut LP is out in time for Xmas!
Definitely one of the best death metal debut albums of recent years. Not slavishly sticking to the Stockholm blueprint there’s a hint of Pestilence & the underrated Gorefest here too and the guitar tone has more ‘crunch’ than ‘fuzz’ but the groove of those early Swedish bands is present in spades! The record opens with the short but heavy instrumental “Into The Abyss” which reminds me of the brilliant Hail Of Bullets before “Abyssal Ways” grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags into a time machine back to 1989. You’ll spend twelve tracks and about 45 minutes in this death metal TARDIS before emerging the other side, sweaty but with a big grin after album closer “Celestial Carnage” has had its way with you.
This is pure Swedish Erotica done right by four young lads from Noo Joisey!
(8/10 Mark Eve)