Well, I have to say that the accompanying blurb that came with the promo release really does win “self-evident comment of the year”, with the opening statement, “Death, as it happens, is intrinsically lethal”. Yup. I should say so. Many thanks to the writing team for that gem. I shan’t hold it against the band though, who it appears are a German outfit, and this is their third album.
Reckless Manslaughter like death metal. Not only do they like death metal, they have decided to play death metal in the old school vibe. To be honest, that’s perfectly fine for me – I prefer my death metal to have some actual atmosphere and song writing rather than tonnes of technicality but forgettable songs. “Caverns of Perdition” does in fact take its cues from the older generation of extreme metal albums by concentrating on – well, you know – actually writing songs. While opener “Blast into Oblivion” could be one of a dozen death metal bands releasing something this month, it’s with second track “Unleash the Spirits of the Fallen” that they really start to hit their stride. It’s a mid-tempo bruiser, and yes, the intro has more than a hint of mid-career Bolt Thrower about it (but hey, if you’re going to wear your influences on your sleeve, you could do much worse), but it also has a very memorable chorus, some excellent soloing, and impressive skin bashing.
In fact, Reckless Manslaughter get stronger as the album goes on. The first time I heard the abrupt stomping rhythm playing on “Operation Chastise”, I thought it was cheesier than the milk section of my fridge at university – but after many repeated listens, I’ve really developed a soft spot for it. It’s a damned catchy tune, and while it’s not going to have any of the heavyweights of the genre quaking in their boots – it’s just too simply put together – it gets my head nodding away.
While I get the impression that Reckless Manslaughter had fun making the record, it is a little uneven. Not in terms of the playing, which is perfectly well done – in particular some of the solos and the drumming stand out – but in terms of the song writing. About 50% of the material is pretty strong and memorable (“Catacombs of Perpetual Damnation” is an epic rager), but the rest does feel a little more lightweight and not quite at the same level. It’s a shame, because when these boys are on, they’re often at or on the cusp of being really effective. As it is, it feels as if what they’ve produced is a really enjoyable EP with some bonus tracks. I do wish there were slightly more songs like the off kilter and odd “Stiffshifter”, which is an album highlight with its time changes and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it drumming.
All in all – some quality to be found, but uneven. I’ll be tuning in for the next album, though.
(6.5/10 Chris Davison)