Valdur – Pathetic Scum


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Death metal and black metal are particularly renowned for their OTT, gory and provocative subject matter, imaginative or otherwise. With such titles as ‘Tank Torture’ and ‘Blessings Of The Goat’, you really have to hope that black metallers Valdur are doing so with some tongue in cheek, surely? That said, the lack of imagination here does suit the solid if not spectacular formula of latest effort Pathetic Scum (Bloody Mountain).

Following a split from guitarist/vocalist Thor, their sound veered from some of its pagan influences and melodicism, now with a rawer and visceral edge, one more typical and standard to the genre. There is little that differentiates this from many of their peers, with many clichés and traits. Album opener ‘Tank Torture’ (sigh) for example immediately starts with furious blastbeats and just about continues throughout with very little character.

Not that it is terrible by any stretch, in fact overlooking its lack of imagination and own identity Pathetic Scum is a very solid effort, and one that doesn’t outstay its welcome at only six tracks long and approximately half an hour long. Songs like ‘Impending Doom’ and the title track seemingly fly by, whilst the closing track ‘Morbid Emanations’ shows some more adventure within its 7 minutes, dropping into an eerie, near clean passage, proving the album’s highlight.

By no means a terrible effort, Pathetic Scum is an unspectacular album with very few talking points, character or imagination. Fortunately at its short duration it won’t prove too taxing a listen, but for those more familiar with the genre it will provide very little.

 

5.0/10

CHRIS TIPPELL


Unleashed – Dawn of the Nine


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Swedish death metal veterans Unleashed are 25 years into their career. Dawn of the Nine (Nuclear Blast), the group’s 12th album, is a quality 45 minute slab of brutal yet enjoyable old school death metal. Generally seen as one of the earliest extreme metal bands to delve into the world of Norse mythology, Dawn of the Nine sees Unleashed continue with tales of longboats, Midgard and Thor, picking up the story where 2012’s Odalheim (also Nuclear Blast)left off. There may be no shortage of other bands doing this sort of thing nowadays, but Unleashed still stand out in terms of quality.

The band – led by vocalist/bassist Johnny Hedlund and joined by Tomas Olsson & Fredrik Folkare on guitars and Anders Schultz on drums – might be long in the tooth but have crafted an album that still sounds fresh without compromising on their sound. From the opening salvo of ‘A New Day Will Rise’, the relentless shred of ‘Defenders of Midgard’ to the screaming lead single ‘Where is Your God Now?’, Dawn of the Nine is chock full of demonic bellowing , blast beats, chainsaw riffs and endless solos. It’s more heavy thrash than grinding, and you know you’re in 90s old school death metal territory, but is catchy and accessible at the same time.

Hedlund’s hellish vocals manage to somehow be guttural yet completely understandable – meaning the dense story isn’t lost behind incomprehensible grunts. There’s plenty of melodic riffing and addictively intricate solos – fans of Amon Amarth will find a lot to appreciate in the likes of ‘Where Churches Once Burned’ or ‘They Came to Die.” It’s not all blast beats however as Unleashed can varies the tempo without compromising on the heaviness; ‘Bolt Thrower’ is slow yet relentlessly brutal march, while the title track crushes at a snail’s pace before enjoying some Black Sabbath-style galloping.

‘Dawn of the Nine’ is massively heavy, surprisingly melodic, and a perfect update of classic 90s death metal. Despite being a dozen albums and a quarter decade into their career, Unleashed have still managed to concoct a quality album that’s unrelenting yet engaging and enjoyable. Fetch the mead.

8.0/10

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DAN SWINHOE