Although Thrash and Death Metal are closely related cousins in the grand scheme of Heavy Metal, blending the two requires a unique and craftful hand. Strangely enough, it’s harder than you think to succeed at combining the two in an insightful and memorable way. As far as I’m concerned only a few bands have accomplished this task and fewer of them can do it repeatedly. When DEW-SCENTED began to mix more Thrash inspiration into their music on “Innoscent” one could hear that there were plenty of good ideas, but it was on “Ill-Natured” that the band truly began to make them spark.
Despite a somewhat ridiculous cover, the music behind it is full of life, chemistry, brutality, and melody. DEW-SCENTED take their love of the old genres and give it a new life. “Ill-Natured” is chock full of monster Thrash riffs and Death Metal grooves spiced with just enough melodic moments to keep a listener interested on the first spin but enough depth to keep that interest on the tenth or eleventh spin too. It’s a relatively dynamic combination that works on a variety of levels.
Whether it’s those guttural screams or the bombastic drumming, there is enough brutality to keep those diehard Death Metalheads interested too. Even though there are some great Thrash riffs and SLAYER-esque soloing (although the latter in very limited quantity which is something that I kept wanting to hear more of) the heart of Death Metal is the core of this album. The music is memorable and although might seem repetitive on the first or second listen, there is enough layering and depth to the music to keep one hooked for longer too.
I did want a bit more soloing to match some of those interesting melodic leads and sections, but this band is more about the initial strike to kill rather than the dynamics of making a solo fit. The lack of extensive soloing is fine because it still works quite well in the end. I also had a few issues with the production of this album which is by far the biggest hindrance to DEW-SCENTED. The vocals are mixed rather low and the overall feeling of the production gives “Ill-Natured” a hollow feel rather than the epic sound the writing works with. It diverts much of the energy from the band and keeps them from fully reaching the potential they could have with the album.
“Ill-Natured” is Death/Thrash at some of its best. Despite a rather weak production a few personal preference differences, this is a great album that just sparks with energy and life. DEW-SCENTED are one of the few bands that have been able to pull an album like this off in this manner but its still a great listen even later down the road.
Songs to check out: “Apocalypse Inside”, “Defiance”, “The Endless”.
(Online January 13, 2009)