Kingdom Of Fear
posted on 10/2007 By:
It is fairly easy to draw parallels between Singapore’s Impiety and Sweden’s In Battle, in terms of trajectory. In recent years, both bands have morphed from black metal into hyper-fast death metal, and their transition albums (Paramount Evil and Welcome to the Battlefield, respectively) were high on intensity but low on longevity. But, with album number four, In Battle are finally knocking out songs like the veterans that they are, and I’ll be damned if Kingdom of Fear doesn’t blast from blood-soaked subwoofers for years to come.
The main cog in this wheel o’ death is drummer Nils Fjellstrom, also of the mighty Aeon. While the man would deserve kudos simply for appearing on two of this year’s most enjoyable albums, Kingdom of Fear is the disc in which he flexes his unmistakable sound most impressively. Rising from the ranks of the criminally underrated to the status of Death Metal Drumgod, he loads every forceful kick and thwack (and there’s a shitload of ‘em) with gobs of manic character. This guy is freaking relentless, and he makes this album an explosion rather than a mere splash, especially with the help of vocalist John Odhinn Sandin. Employing a homicidal, unhinged vocal attack that is a perfect match for Fjellstrom’s style, Sandin sounds a little bit like Randy Blythe on PCP. Not similar in Blythe’s Cro-Magnon, “Bar-rar-rar-rar-FUCK!” approach, per se, but in the essence that he finishes each syllable as if he were twisting a knife; each venomous word is delivered with snarling malice.
Do two world-beating performances make a strong album? Of course not. But, thankfully, the string-wielders dole out some violently fast riffing, and avoid blowing their load early on. Kingdom of Fear is a decimator, through and through, but the real strength is found in the latter half of the disc. To say they “kick it into gear” would be ludicrous, because In Battle keep it redlined damn near constantly (save for the chugtastic lurch of “Follow The Allfather”); but from “Tyr” onward, the riffs truly take hold and lock in. It’s here where the marked shift from the last album is most apparent; where Welcome to the Battlefield was a warlike statement of suffocating speed, this album sees the band breathe a little between hammerblows. Unafraid to ride a groove and let Fjellstrom’s unnatural creativity shine, the band’s maturity and growth is sickly satisfying, to say the least. Full-stomp wreckers like “I Kamp” showcase the strength of their attack, and demand repeat listenings.
This is rapid-fire death metal of serious caliber; while these songs may blend together in a shitstorm of violence, there’s enough skull-cracking axework and stellar drumming to make this thing stand out from the pack. I’ve been craving a superfast lashing like this ever since Ixaxxar tripped on its hype, and In Battle delivers it. While this isn’t a pedestal-placer, there’s always going to be times in life that demand the donning of a blood-spattered helmet, the raising of an axe, and charging into the Kingdom of Fear.
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