With a name like Throatsnapper you’d be well within your rights to expect either a volatile hard core punk band spitting out vitriolic lyrics, or at the very least an intimidating blackened death metal band that take devilish glee inflicting their wretched noise upon an unsuspecting public. However; I can tell you that my throat was definitely not snapped after listening to About the Dead, in fact it felt more like a slightly uncomfortable neck massage performed by a masseuse suffering from a mild case of eczema. Contrary to what I expected, Antwerp natives Throatsnapper, play doom metal sprinkled with sludge.
About the Dead begins with ‘Another Way’, it’s a relatively heavy start, feeling rather progressive, featuring melodic death metal style guitars with a shrill solo of sorts played over the top. It’s an impressive first track, heavy yet plenty of melody and bodes well for the remainder of the album. Things slow down a little on ‘From Wood to Gallows’ with its leisurely intro and clean guitars, the majority of the song being instrumental with a few howls and screams from vocalist Wouter Goolaerts. In fact the majority of the tracks on About the Dead are by and large instrumentals with the occasional indecipherable vocals, which don’t really add much to the songs. At the midpoint ‘Why’ (yes, that’s correct, no question mark) sounds almost identical to what has preceded it, until it hits two minutes, and then, to my relief, it got a whole lot heavier. There’s plenty of distortion on the guitars and feels like the band are creating much more of a racket, going so far as to introduce double bass pedals to the drums.
The problem with About the Dead is that it even though there are only six tracks it tends to feel tedious only half way through. It starts well but it soon becomes apparent that there’s very little variety, each song copies the same formula. Once I’d realised that each song will mainly be instrumental, but will occasionally contain shouted vocals, the same guitar sound and the same melodies my attention did start to wander. It’s generally nailed on that a doom/sludge band will churn out Sabbath-like riffs so loud and so low they will loosen bowels within a five mile radius. Old hands like Crowbar and Eyehategod have been doing this for years, while newer acts such as Yob, Pallbearer and Opium Lord continue to push the scene forward. Unfortunately Throatsnapper don’t have the catchy low end riffs, or offer anything different to allow them to stand out in what is starting to become a crowded genre.
After a promising start About the Dead tends to flat line, it’s an album that clings to mediocrity by its fingertips and doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary, never pushes itself into unfamiliar territory; instead it’s content to stick to a tried and tested formula. I was hoping after repeated listens the tracks would reveal hidden treasures and begin to grow on me; alas this was not the case. Variety is after all the spice of life (along with killer riffs) and Throatsnapper need to add both if they are to break out of their comfort zone. In a live setting Throatsnapper could be a better proposition, it’s conceivable that some of their weight has been lost in the recording; fantastic moniker, average album.
(5/10 James Jackson)