SweDeath is a fairly common approach to Death Metal these days. Highly influential, instantly recognizable and easy to blend in with other styles and approaches, this core style of Death Metal is one we are all widely familiar with, and why plenty of European Death Metal bands have a sense of familiarity to their sound. Formed in 2007 in Stockholm, One Hour Hell is a well-rounded musical entity which pulls no punches and takes no prisoners and ‘Voidwalker’, the band’s third release shows the band continuing on with their uncompromising approach. There won’t be any sympathetic bonds formed here, just a violent death metal!
“A Violent Cancer” opens the release and it’s pretty solid sounding from the off. A nasty wall of distortion which has some serious weight behind it, vocal roars reminiscent of The Haunted and a tight rhythm section all work together in just the right way to create a real menacing statement of intent. The modern death metal edge on the classic SweDeath foundation works like a charm. Atonal and jarring stabs with pedal-tone riff foundations lead into solid breakdowns where the low end and blasts dominate and the only way to really describe this track is like being hit by a truck. From here on out, you would be forgiven if you expected more of the same for the rest of the release. There are moments where this surging, groove-laden thrash friendly death metal assault dominates or forms the core of a track, but the rest of the release has a more brutal edge to it.
It is almost like a switch is flicked. The relentless brutal edged riffs rain down with little reprieve. The low end focused, hammering and crushing feel dominates the soundscape and it is hard to escape from. With plenty of forays into the extreme edges of Death Metal and some pseudo-Black Metal moments with piercing guitar wails and buzzing leads, “Voidwalker” navigates its way into an extreme abyss whilst retaining the more structured approach which is typical of the classic SweDeath style. There might be returns to the more thrash-minded sections but it is definitely fiercer when it does come back, bringing slight shades of Katalepsy and Meshuggah with it in terms of sound and execution; a prime example being the track “Hall Of A Thousand Minds” – surging paced riffs punctuated by eerie and haunting clean sections, twisting riffs or massive brutal sounding riff stabs which all form the backdrop for some intense vocal roaring.
Whilst there is a range of variety across the nine tracks, there is also a lot of familiarity and moments of predictability. The more brutal edged stabbing chord sections all have a fairly similar tempo to them, the main differences being just where on the fretboard they are executed. The pacing might change from time to time but it always retains the same feel throughout, predictable but effective. Vocally it is either standard death metal growls and grunts or a more intense variation, there aren’t many moments which make things a little more expressive like squeals in the brutal sections instead of borderline guttural grunts and so on. It’s basically a transition, the band deciding to adopt a new approach and using the album as a stepping stone to shift in that direction as opposed to a total shift in style for a release, something you can praise the band for doing as it will prepare people for the band’s future sound/approach.
Overall, this isn’t a bad release, nor is it a standout one. It sits fairly comfortably in the “good” pile for 2019 Death Metal releases. You can see that this is a band aiming to move in a new direction for them and you can see how they are taking these steps without producing anything which isn’t just there to make up the numbers on the album. Everything works, it just lacks the spark to make it truly stand out.