Saturday, August 12, 2017

Deserted Fear – Dead Shores Rising

Deserted Fear is something of an enigma. Despite being signed to Century Media Records and recently releasing their third album, it feels like the band hasn’t received a significant push in either the underground or the mainstream metal scenes. After a few listens of “Dead Shores Rising”, it becomes clear why they don’t seem to be especially in favour of either group: they straddle the line between the two almost perfectly. Deserted Fear can best be described as Bolt Thrower meets Amon Amarth. Imagine a constant onslaught of crushing grooves infused with harmonized guitar playing. In fact, the opening moments of “The Fall of Leaden Skies”, the first real song on the album, bring these two elements together.

To the band’s credit, where they differ from these two groups is their willingness to push tempos to fairly high speeds. Not content with simply grooving and bobbing some heads, Deserted Fear has some thrash-inspired moments that will induce immediate whiplash. The band seamlessly transitions between faster moments and monolithic mid-paced sections, taking no prisoners in both instances. The production is monstrous and supports the band’s sheer heaviness. This is one of the few examples of where a major label (for metal) production really has a positive impact. It accentuates how tight the band’s playing is, and makes everything infinitely heavier.

As one might imagine, much of Deserted Fear’s riffs are predicated on tremolo picking various patterns. Though the guitars are extremely downtuned, the band’s more melodic tendencies open up more variety in the riffs that can be used, as opposed to more brutal bands that have a limited selection of notes. The drums range from the aforementioned thrashier beats, to speedy double bass drumming with simplistic handwork over top, to spacy grooves (with the latter two styles paying great homage to Bolt Thrower). Blast beats are not particularly in favour, and likely would not suit the band's sound. The growling is primarily limited to gutturals, with the occasional higher note, but the execution on the low end is extremely convincing. 

There aren’t too many tricks to be found as the album soldiers on, but Deserted Fear opted to make a concise, impactful record. Everything they do on this album is done with extreme care and precision. My initial confusion when discovering the band was how could a band signed to Century Media receive so little attention; after listening to this album numerous times, the real question is how could a band this good be ignored by so many listeners? I don’t have an answer, but regardless, Deserted Fear is essential death metal that wipes the floor with almost everything else going on in this subgenre in 2017!

Be sure to check out and like Deserted Fear on Facebook!

Highlights
"The Fall of Leaden Skies"
"Towards Humanity"
"The Carnage"

Final Rating
4.3/5 or 86%. 

Written by Scott

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Orden Ogan – Gunmen

 
With each subsequent album, Germany’s Orden Ogan is becoming a bigger deal. After the brilliant “Ravenhead”, it seemed the band was poised to explode in popularity even further. “Gunmen” is the follow-up, and the album definitely shows the band settling even further into their comfortable sound. While it might be a step down from “Ravenhead”, Orden Ogan's personality as a band is even clearer than before. “Gunmen” has all of the hallmarks of the band’s sound: huge epic choruses that have layers upon layers of backing vocals, mind-boggling shredding solos, surprisingly heavy riffs, and the occasional folky melody. The focal point of “Gunmen” is definitely the choruses. Each song offers a pleasing, instantly memorable melody that can’t be sung live with any less than a crowd of thousands. Often times, while the song itself is fast, the chorus may slow down to create an even more epic feel. This is particularly evident in the title track, but is not the only instance of this tactic. It allows for thunderous, speedy double bass with huge choirs soaring from above.

The first 5 tracks show a band possessed to create the most earth-shattering record possible. Each of these songs can stand up against anything in the band’s catalogue. The most compelling of these tracks are “Forlorn and Forsaken” and “Come With Me To The Other Side”. The former has a bouncy chorus with perfectly constructed vocal lines by frontman Seeb Levermann. This is one of the few times where the band doesn’t go for epicness in the chorus, but instead opts for sheer fun. It’s one of those tracks that only a band from the lighter side of metal could pull off, but Orden Ogan is successful. The other highlight features Liv Kristine (Leaves’ Eyes), who does a serviceable job when her number is called. Truthfully, Seeb can sing this track every bit as well, and once again, it is the chorus that proves this.

Gunmen” is not without its faults. Much like nearly every Orden Ogan record before it (excepting “Ravenhead”), the album slows down too quickly. After the 5th song, the remaining tracks fail to impress. They certainly aren’t bad, but this band knows when they strike gold, and unfortunately, they didn’t do that on part II of this record. While not all of these songs are as lengthy as most of the band’s tracks, Orden Ogan would benefit from getting some of these songs down by a minute or two each. Most of them crack 6 minutes, and even when the band is on fire, one can’t help but feel things would be even more impactful if they left the listener wanting more. 

For a band in the prime of their career, Orden Ogan has just put out a worthy release. It may not be their best work, but it has many songs deserving to be played live for years to come. The band is beginning to move towards Sabaton/Powerwolf status in the sense that they have the ability to pump out album after album that remain fairly similar, but that approach isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For now, it’s best to just turn “Gunmen” up loud and sing along with every chorus!

Be sure to check out and like Orden Ogan on Facebook!

Highlights
"Gunman"
"Forlorn and Forsaken"
"Come With Me To The Other Side"

Final Rating
4.4/5 or 88%. 

Written by Scott