Despite what was said concerning Johan ‘Liiva’ Axelsson’s subsequent firing from ARCH ENEMY, I have always considered him a very good and diverse vocalist. Maybe not the most original or unique vocalist, but he is top quality when it comes to Death Metal vocals. The latest release from his current band, HEARSE, proves that he, or his band, aren’t about to lie down and die even if the band has to scratch and claw its way to the top.
HEARSE have released their best album to date with “In These Veins”, a true Death N Roll romp if there ever was one. I always liked how HEARSE was able to combine Death Metal technicality with Rock N Roll sensibility into a sound that is catchy without compromising their Death Metal roots.
In true Death Metal fashion, the music is anger ridden and dark. The heavy riffs and bass lines provide some great head banging sections but the true power of “In These Veins” is derived from the catchy (could I even go as far and say danceable?) groove that’s formulated. This album has an almost fun side to the music that is reminiscent of MOTORHEAD at times. The solos and leads are not there to build any kind of feeling as the album goes on nor are they there solely to impress the listener. There is an impromptu aura to the solos that is refreshing. Hell, even the solo at the end of the song “Corroding Armour” sounds like something Eddie Van Halen would write.
Although the music is approached in a less than modern manner, the production and mixing is top of the line on this album. In fact, this maybe one of the best mixed Death Metal albums I’ve heard this year. It helps that there aren’t any egos trying to soak the limelight in the band, but nonetheless the band as a cohesive is something to admire on “In These Veins.”
This release isn’t for everyone. It might be too safe for some of the more die-hard Death Metal fans but it’s still extreme enough that many newer Metal fans may find it hard to really catch onto. In the end though, HEARSE has released their best album to date with this latest effort and although it might not be the most spectacular album, I find myself listening to it more and more. HEARSE’s Death N Roll vibe has me hook in mouth.
Songs to check out: “Corroding Armour”, “Crusade (Gonna Start A Fire)”, “Hearse”.
(Online October 1, 2007)