After so many years of mid-paced Death Metal mediocrity, Tägtgren and co. finally made a triumphant return with “Virus”. The previous album, “The Arrival”, was a decent but uninspired affair, so I didn’t have high hopes when I found out that they would return in 2005 with “Virus”.
One thing that is perfectly clear from the get-go is that this is an altogether heavier and more focused album than anything in the band’s recent discography. I think that is all thanks to the acquisition of skinsman Horgh (ex-IMMORTAL) – he adds a lot of thunderous double-bass and blasts to the proceedings and Tägtgren is more vitriolic on both vocals and guitars.
After a rather pointless 16 second intro the album kicks into high gear with “War Path”, with one of the bands best riffs ever, seriously you have to be dead not to enjoy that opening riff!! Great stuff, and it continues with the next track, “Scrutinized”, featuring a very catchy chorus and blistering little solo. From there on the songs vary between anthemic pieces (“Fearless”), more serious, inward looking songs (“A Thousand Lies”) and plain brutal Death fests (“Blooddrenched”). No matter what the style on the songs, they never let up in quality, and the band really sound like they are enjoying themselves on here. On the last track Tägtgren showcases his clean vocals very effectively, and the track sounds like it could’ve come of his side-project PAIN’s recent album.
The production is brilliant as always, and the performances are all top notch. One thing that also caught me eye was the brilliant album cover – truly a work to behold! The limited edition CD also comes with a bonus DVD featuring 13 tracks recorded live at Strasbourg on the 2004 The Arrival Tour, featuring both new and older songs like “Roswell 47”, “Born Dead Buried Alive” and “Deathrow”. The sound is OK, and the camerawork standard, but the overall show / presentation could have been more dynamic, I feel. Nonetheless, it is a nice bonus to this already impressive album. Good work boys!!! (Online February 23, 2006)