This is the eighth – yes, eighth full length release for Ribspreader since 2004. When you add on the fact that this old-school Swedish death metal band is just one of twenty one bands that main man Rogga Johansson is shown as being an active member of on Metal Archives, then one has to concede that this is a remarkable display of productivity. Surely though, when producing just so many releases each year, the quality has to be on the slide somewhere?
Well, if it does, it isn’t here. “Crawl and Slither”, while a full length release, is actually a compilation of two previously unreleased Eps, and indeed, there is a difference in the production between the first few songs and the latter end of the platter, mostly in the thickness of the guitar tone. The accompanying PR blurb mentions that Ribspreader is going to be the kind of band that will appeal to fans of Dismember, Unleashed, Carnage and Edge of Sanity (among others). To be fair, the biggest comparator band that I can hear are Grave. So with all of these bands that are reference points to Ribspreader, how do they fare for their own part? Really bloody well, as it goes. This is for the most part, pretty chunky, mid-paced old school Swedish death metal. It has the gnarled guitar sound. It has the insistent, almost nervous drumming of Jeramie Kling; beats that seem to be on the very edge of being out of time, but never quite straying there.
Vocally, Rogga has his trademark roar, which is on the Dave Ingram / Karl Willets side of the house, being equal parts ugly bellow but also perfectly decipherable and understandable. There’s some tasty guitar melodies to be heard (the outro axe work on “Dead Reign Rotten” being a case in point), thanks to Taylor Nordberg (ex-Wombbath). If I have criticism, it’s that the slightly uneven production is a bit jarring. “Time Heals Only Flesh”, a proper old-school rager, has some of the driest production outside of Scott Burns early work. Everything sounds quite distant and quite a bit weaker as a consequence than other material on the collection. It doesn’t jar too badly, but it is a bit of a distraction. That being said, the quality of the song writing is consistent throughout, and while there probably isn’t any one track here that you’re going to be adding to your “raging anthems” playlist any time soon, this is a relentlessly high tier death metal record.
(7/10 Chris Davison)