Monday, December 21, 2009

Skeletal Spectre - Tomb Coven (2009)

Skeletal Spectre are yet another of those old school Swedish retro death metal bands who I have become enamored with. Truly, this is getting a bit old and trendy, another sort of tribute to the greats (Entombed, Dismember, Grave, and so on), but a band like this comes along and everything seems to feel fresh again. And there is simply so much to like...the band is signed to Razorback Records, who have an ear for old school talent that is nigh flawless. The logo is great, the song titles are great, the cover art is cheesy and great, even the names of the fucking band members are cool (Behold the Pentagram: bass and vocals, Sacrifice the Virgin: guitar, Haunting the Beyond: drums). Unlike a few of their peers, there is a slightly greater edge of old doom metal to their sound, you'll hear the Sabbath influence clearly and maybe a little drudgy Celtic Frost.

"The Decapitress" starts things out with a slow, crawling wall of chugging death and doom, and though the riffs seem quite basic and done 100x before, the vocals of Behold the Pentagram help to put it over the top with their Tom G. Warrior-like dirty punch. The sounds this band emits are quite massive, pure Swedish tone cranking out across the rhythm guitars and a bass which sounds like a sludge factory. "Amulet of Impurity" has a big death'n'roll groove to it, as does "Wrath of Corrupta", big punk rhythms inspired by Motorhead. "Burial Grounds" is another bludgeoning creeper, rocking off at the same pace of a corpse freshly risen from the grave. I love the melody in the chorus. "Cursed Ancestry" opens with Behold giving it some Warrior gusto, as the guitars churn out below into a heavy Cathedral trot, and the title track "Tomb Coven" has a giant, sinister groove and necro witchy lyrics. "Eerie Bones" is another morbid, crawling track with some dark, melodic doom breaks.

Skeletal Spectre don't really offer anything new, but what they do know is how to record an album. This is one of the most dark and swollen recordings in recent memory, even if it's done more in fun. The vocals are kickass and the riffs don't even need to be, they just rock out hard and know exactly how to sound. Tomb Coven is a crushing debut and another score for Razorback.

Highlights: Burial Grounds, Cursed Ancestry, Tomb Coven

Verdict: Win [7.75/10]

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