Descend – The Deviant
Release Date: 26/06/2020
Review by Beth Jones
I’ve been pretty spoilt recently, as far as music is concerned! The sheer volume of excellent new releases is staggering, especially in the current climate, and getting the chance to pen some thoughts about them has been great. Next up for me is Swedish Progressive Death Metal quintet, Descend.
These guys have been around a good few years now, originally starting out as a Thrash band in 2003. However, through line-up changes and new musical influences creeping in, their style has morphed into what they now offer. Their first album, “Through The Eyes Of The Burdened” was released in 2011, and in 2014 they released a second album, “Wither”. Since then, the line-up has changed somewhat again, with the addition of Raul Vicente (bass) and Emil Nissilä (drums).
Recorded at Wing Studios, Stockholm, with Sverker Widgren (Diabolical) as producer, their third studio album, and latest release, “The Deviant” is being billed as their ‘milestone’ album. So, what does it sound like?
Well, the first thing that strikes you is power. The opening track, ‘Avalin’ hits you with a catchy riff and melody from the beginning. This is less of a track, and more of an intro/walk on piece, and at only 1 minute 40 in length, would be just about enough time to get the band on stage, let the crowd go wild, and do a quick line check.
This progresses swiftly into track 2, ‘Blood Moon’, which starts with a riff that is pure classic Thrash. It quickly drops off into a quiet mid-section, with clean vocals and acoustic sounds being the driver, then pumps back up for the chorus to guttural screams and growls, skilful wandering bass, and a hint of a blast beat, as well as some dark and overdriven down tuned guitar riffage.
The album continues on in this way, through four more tracks which all appear to be going for some sort of record in length. ‘Standard for prog!’ I hear you cry. Well, yes, but I do have an issue with this. Musically, this album is definitely Death, Melodic Death in places, with a good few nods to classic Thrash sounds. However, in my opinion it is lacking a little in the prog department. Don’t get me wrong, it has elements, but sometimes they feel a little forced, almost like afterthoughts to make it ‘fit in’ with the genre. The inclusion of a tenor sax solo in the penultimate track, “Wallow”, is interesting, but again feels like it’s been done purely ‘to prog it up’. And, dare I say, the extended length of the tracks has a tendency to be a little boring, as they’re not extended in order to introduce new variations around a theme, or explore different elements in instrumentation, they are just there to make the songs longer.
The only exception to this comes halfway through the album in the form of track 4, ‘Lily’. This track does do what it says on the tin, it’s Melodic Death in the heavy sections, and does successfully bring it down to indulge in some exploration in the middle. If the rest of the album was the same calibre as this song, it would be much more pleasing.
These guys are, without question, very talented technical musicians. The album is peppered with some extremely good guitar solos, precision drumming at impressive tempos, and bass lines that explore a decent range. And the ability of singer Nima Farhadian Langroundi to go from clean vocals to guttural roars and tortured scream is very impressive. But I’m not getting the important connection, that comes from the soul, when I listen to this album. I think this is a band who have the potential to do great things, but I think they really need to focus on what they actually want to be, and let themselves really feel the music rather than getting hung up on the technical detail.
Production wise, it’s pretty good, although I do find that sometimes the vocals are a little further back in the mix than I would like. It’s a very guitar driven sound though, so this is probably intentional. And if I’ve said this once, I’ve said it a thousand time. STOP BLOODY FADING TRACKS OUT BECAUSE YOU CAN’T WORK OUT HOW TO FINISH THEM!!! As a musician, and a huge fan of live music, it infuriates me! You can’t achieve that level of fade live, so why do it on a recording? Yet again, we see it here, with the final track on the album. It’s disappointing.
So, to sum up; Has it got some interesting elements? Yes. Is it technically very good? Yes. Did I like it?… it’s ok. It’s not terrible, but nor is it ground-breaking.
02. Blood Moon
03. The Purest One
06. The Deviant
Andreas Lindström – guitars
Alexander Wijkman – guitars
Nima Farhadian Langroudi – vocals
Raul Vicente – bass
Emil Nissilä – drums
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