Thursday, May 11, 2017

Rebel Souls - The Forces of Darkness (2017)

Rebel Souls is a project related to another little known German act called Dead Entities' Realm, whose sole 2009 disc To Reconciled Solitude was one I covered some years ago here at the site, a competent approach to progressive and melodic death metal which sort of angled off from the early 90s Death era with some other inspirations that made it better rounded and more robust. This new album, The Forces of Darkness heads off into a far more abrupt and aggressive terrain altogether, a vicious smattering of Polish and brutal death metal over a dependable framework of traditional death metal, with heavy emphasis on riff composition as well as a balance of flailing solos, relentless beats and churning chords patterns that explore a little more of the fret board than you might expect.

I bring up the 'Polish' angle again, because similar to bands like Vader, MasachistHate or Trauma, Rebel Souls are quite adept at giving you that balanced strain of death metal which doesn't veer off into the too wanky or showy area despite the obvious level of confidence and competence here. Loads of frenetic, pinpoint rhythmic chops delivered through the mute picking sequences, prominent and audible bass tones that move with an agility to rival the guitar, and beats that stick effortlessly to the furious level of energy the band generates across almost the entire 28 minutes of playtime. They do not entirely eschew the melody of their other project, but here it's used more like a subtext to just balance out the dizzying levels of punishment, and I'd point out that a number of the riffs here have a clear lineage to thrashing, neck jerking material from several decades ago, only clad in the brutality that the guttural growls and more intense drum patterns offer them. The only place this really lets up is in the album's intro, and the intro to "Doomsday", which are moody, glinting acoustic vignettes set to haunting storms or ambiance, setting up the ensuing onslaughts accordingly.

I don't know if The Forces of Darkness wins a lot of marks for originality, and the riffing choices aren't always going to resonate within your memory forever, but the level of proficiency here in both the performance and the production of the material easily rivals that of bands with decades more professional experience and exposure. For veterans who appreciate this sort of gestalt style which draws on several aspects or categories of its parent sub-genre, this record is the business, and I doubt you can spin it without reveling in its tight execution, never once threatening to overstay its welcome or stray from its clobbering course even when it gives you those few precious breaths of air. Discs like this are almost like the natural evolution of the whole Reign in Blood shtick; just a fast and furious exercise in violent aural art that understands itself all to well, and rather than trying to rock the boat, it sinks it with as much ordnance as the two band members can muster. Did I mention it was just two guys? Yeah, and many groups twice that size don't play this hard. Extra credit for name dropping the German counterpart to Thor.

Verdict: Win [8/10] (shorn of every virtue and passion)

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