As a newish death metal project hailing from Sweden, Mordbrand immediately brings to fruition the unshakable stereotype that haunts anyone emerging into such an inflated scene. However, while they certainly cull a few of the practiced characteristics of the genre, in particular a core of punk-driven d-beat death & roll, they manage to derail expectations through a superior songwriting ability. These guys have some roots playing 'fun' punk and thrash outfits (the musicians are from The Law), but joined with Swedish growling legend Per Boder of God Macabre, their material takes on a more dour and appreciably serious dimension. Variation and melodic sensibility ensure that the listener is getting into something more than the average barrage of Nihilist, Dismember and Entombed worship.
The face rocking begins immediately, as Mordbrand whip up a mystic, almost Arabesque into to "Eaters of the Void" that propels right into a riff that would have fans of Skitsystem, Trap Them, Rotten Sound and Entombed windmilling the shit out of their limbs. But quickly, before casting themselves fully to the predictable, they initiate dual melodies and a melancholic tinged bridge that deliver in spades, while Boder grumbles over the top of the bone pile like a mutant mortician. "Graveyard Revisited" opens with a huge groove before its own acceleration into melodic death-punk, and "The Fall of Flesh" rolls out a more clinical, melodic swagger. There is a not a song among these which fails to balance itself nicely, even the cutting and drying of the closer "Deliverance" upholds the standard of spring-loaded groove and versatility.
Necropsychotic even sound good, while eschewing the standard tone used on so many of these Swedish-style records for something with more purposeful rock clarity. Fans of Entombed's Wolverine Blues or Desultory's Swallow the Snake will be right at home here, though this is a more genuinely death-starved, sepulcher-crashing affair with old school death metal lyrics. It's never a bad thing that a band refreshes its influences without ripping them off, and this trio has done damn well to mix it up. These six tracks might not be the stuff of legend, but they're flexible and entertaining enough to anticipate what a full-length of similar quality might offer.
Verdict: Win [7.5/10]