In These Veins
posted on 9/2007 By:
The acrimonious demise of Arch Enemy Mark I thrust a regrettable Sepultura/Soulfly situation into the hands of many longtime fans. It was a case where the collective’s back catalog would still be held in high esteem (for good reason, as it contains some of melodic death metal’s finest works), but the resulting releases from both Johan Liiva and his former bandmates would be cast with a long shadow named ‘What May Have Been’. Some treated the fork in the road with indifference. AE’s lackluster efforts Anthems of Rebellion and Doomsday Machine, in conjunction with Hearse’s nondescript debut, Dominion Reptilian, only set to reinforce such opinions. Years have passed since that debut, however, and with In These Veins (their fourth disc, originally released last year in Europe only), Liiva and Co. have yanked themselves up from under the murky pall of obscurity to deliver a killer fucking album.
Hearse shell out melodic death with a strong (like, three fingers of Wild Turkey with a quick splash o’ Coke strong) death ‘n’ roll spine. “House of Love” opens with a lumbering, Grand Magus-tackling-Wolverine Blues stompwalk, cloaked with the crying, anguished lead guitar style that proves to be Mattias Ljung’s trademark. Then, mid-stride, the march stops…and Hearse flip a switch. They drop into a fat, nasty, galloping deathgroove that doesn’t relent, and then proceed to rock-the-fuck-out for the rest of the album's running length. Make no misconception from the Entombed parallels, as this is executed with pure, glowing Gothenburg style…not with Stockholm sawtooth smiles. But there is an ominous vibe that permeates from the snotty quickness of these riffs, and it haunts in that murderous, King Fear-era Babylon Whores way. Ljung's guitar whispers, “This may be a fun ride, but I’m going to slit your throat when it’s over.”
As for Mr. Liiva himself? He’s one of the most under-appreciated death metal vocalists of all-time, and he turns in the best performance of his career here. His King Fowley-with-molasses-stuck-in-his-throat roar fits the tracks on In These Veins flawlessly; the sometimes-awkward bellows that stamped Black Earth and Stigmata so many years ago seem like they were, well…many years ago. Back then, his style and personality trumped his actual ability; now, they are on equal standing.
To put it simply: Hearse is a kickass melodeath ‘n’ roll band, boiling with punked-out, snarling attitude. If Gardenian’s Sindustries was faster, heavier, and had leather-tipped spikes protruding from it, it might’ve sounded something like this. Now, I think I’ve just shattered my quota for name-dropping in a single review, so just listen to the damn record while I step back from overkill's borderline.
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