I’m not going to start this write-up and pretend like I have a solution for grief or that I’ve made peace with the fact that Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder is no longer with us. As of this writing, it’s been nearly a week since his passing and frankly, I’m still trying to process that. Telling myself that it can’t be true since I’ve seen Strnad and his bandmates have seemingly all the fun onstage at least seven times.
In time I’ll accept what has occurred. But let’s take a look back.
Formed in 2015 after the well documented dissolution and formation of Entombed and Entombed A.D., Swedish supergoup Firespawn (known briefly as Fireborn) comprises guitarists Victor Brandt(Entombed AD) and Fredrik Folkare (Unleashed), bassist Alex “Impaler” Friberg (Necrophobic), former Dark Funeral drummer Matte Modin, and of course, legendary Entombed vocalist L-G Petrov.Continue reading →
The concept of the “Supergroup” may date back to the sixties with bands like Cream and Humble Pie, but it’s one which only began to infiltrate the heavier end of the music spectrum in the late ’80s. It wasn’t until Down arrived with NOLA (Elektra) in 1995 that Metal fans started to recognise its increasing validity.
These days, Supergroups have been popping up with such regularity that you can barely get out of bed for tripping over one. The term has also been stretched enough over the years to incorporate smaller bands as well as the more famous names, even reaching into unlikely genre-specific corners such as Black and Death Metal.
Hailing from sunny Sweden,Firespawn (known until recently as Fireborn) consists of guitarists Victor Brandt(Entombed AD) and Fredrik Folkare (Unleashed), bassist Alex Friberg (Necrophobic) and drummer Matte Modin (ex-Dark Funeral). However, it is vocalist L.G. Petrov who will be the most recognisable face, being the long-serving frontman of Death Metal legends Entombed.
Shadow Realms (Century Media) opens with ‘The Emperor’, a track which hisses and boils with pure Blackened Death Metal aggression. Those more at home listening to Petrov’s distinctive “Death’n’Roll” style vocals will be punched squarely in the ears by the bladder-loosening ferocity of his untamed Death Metal roar. The more mid-paced ‘Imperial Burning’ stomps its way across your face next, it’s punishing groove just as effective as the slashing speed of the preceding track. ‘Lucifer Has Spoken’ will be familiar to some listeners as the band originally released it back in August. Another slow to mid-paced affair, a nicely atmospheric chanted Latin section and a great guitar solo make this one of the better tracks on the album.
The unrelenting speed returns with the brutal but fairly forgettable ‘Spirit of the Black Tide’ and is followed by the short acoustic interlude ‘Contemplate Death’. ‘All Hail’ is up next with its big drums and bigger chorus, and things continue forward in a positive, albeit straightforward direction. ‘Ruination’ is all bluff and bluster, however. Fast and aggressive but leaving the memory the moment it finishes, while ‘Necromance’ looks set to be another throwaway track until it suddenly kicks into life halfway through. Bizarrely, ‘Shadow Realms’ is one of the album’s weaker moments. Considering title tracks are so often the lynchpin of a whole album, this one just doesn’t grab you at any point. It’s fast and heavy, but contains nothing to really sink your teeth into.
Instrumentally speaking, the Behemoth-esque ‘Ginnunga’ sounds great, but Petrov’s vocals really don’t do the song justice. Not poorly performed or particularly weak, his voice is just nowhere near as fearsome as it should be for a song like this. Closer ‘Infernal Eternal’ is another decent, if unspectacular cut but it does feature a magnificent played guitar solo, quite probably the best on the album.
Although certainly not a bad record, Shadow Realms is pretty basic, generic stuff which never really pushes itself as far as you would like. It’s ferocious enough, tightly played with a strong production, and there are moments when everything sounds like it’s suddenly going to fall into place and move up a couple of gears. Unfortunately, it never quite does.