There is a train of thought that when well established band members invest their time, skill and energy into a new project,that said ability can be spread too far, even when you have such elite members that comprise this Swedish death metal troop that you can investigate yourself. That being said it also enables that professionalism, dexterity and talent to capitalise on those agilities and of course divert towards new avenues of sonic exploration. It is fair to say that the five members manning the helm of Firespawn is formidable to say the least and the first two albums, “Shadowrealms” and “The Reprobate” are textbook death metal demolitions where the balance between speed and density are expertly crafted. I’m sure it would have been easy for the band to continue in that vein with this third album but instead they have concentrated their efforts to record a markedly different release yet retaining the hallmarks of Firespawn’s aural devastation.
What the Swedes have forged is an amalgamation between death metal, obviously, but blending into that mix and the song writing are the melodic facets of heavy metal. Now admittedly there is nothing new about this relationship, but what Firespawn has done is cohesively and strategically fuse the genres to produce a blazing slab of scorching fret work and pulverising deathly detonations that kicks off with “The Gallows End”, as voices filter in initially the song has a tortured beginning before a funnelling bass line penetrates. The overriding death metal credentials are balanced by the tuneful guitar work right before the surge in speed. The drum work is far more accomplished on this release with more complexity, and added to that the vocals have become more varied as the opener demonstrates with a deep almost choral vocal insertion.
The use of brief build up sequences works extremely well as “Death And Damnation” proves, with drum fills leading into the speed swell and contrasts with the awesome slower grinding prowess of the title track. It is these slower tracks I found the most enjoyable as the heavy metal hooks are allowed to blossom fully with sumptuous and well defined lead breaks. That slowness does remind of the “Gallery Of Suicide” era by Cannibal Corpse, where that album also allowed a more tuneful approach to be shown. “Heathen Blood” is typical of the band, with blasting forays welded into the melodic riffing backdrop as another pervasive grinding track, “The Great One”, which is even heavier with menacing riffs and an encompassing assault. The exploding blast section is scathingly effective; the speed is rapaciously savage.
“Godlessness” begins with a riff that sounds very familiar, maybe like “Where The Slime Live” (Morbid Angel), even if for a brief moment before the song switches into high velocity but like the other slower songs the innate tunefulness that reining in the speed brings forth is superbly executed as a lingering lead ensues. “Blind Kingdom” continues that rich vein of melodicism, where pummelling double bass threads through the song and showcases the variation of the vocals again, something this album exhibits excellently. I did expect the album to conclude with a slower tune but instead “Black Wings Of The Apokalypse” rockets out, tempered by sporadic mid–tempo double kick infusions. It is these varieties in pace, coupled to the bone crumbling guitar riffs and more elaborate leads that allows this album to take a huge step in terms of musicality and ambition, thereby dismissing any inclinations that the band has nothing new to offer, as they most certainly do.
(9/10 Martin Harris)