Released: 2004, Noise Records/Sanctuary Records
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
After a long wait the third album by the metal icons of Malmö, Sweden is upon us. Debase began with their debut back in ’99 (THE WORLD IS LISTENING) and in 2000 they released DOMINATION. Since 2000 things have been fairly quiet…until now!
The silence, or down time, from this excellent band came from a number of sources: problems with record companies, some members had been married, some have had kids, others have been playing with different bands during the break, etc. All of the guys have worked really hard with the songs to make this the absolutely best album they could. Michael (vocals) has written all of the lyrics except for one song that was written by Micko (bass). Micko/Jonas and Johan have done all of the music/arrangements on this 11-track album.
Debase used the Wickerman Studio located in Malmö, Sweden (which is usually their rehearsing place) and Micko/Jonas and Johan have produced the album. They have done a brilliant production job as compared to Anders “Theo” Thenander who produced their earlier albums. Their past production jobs don’t come close to what the band has achieved on their own. When it was time to mix the album, parts of the band went to Gothenburg, Sweden and Studio Fredman. The very famous producer Fredrik Nordström did the mixing.
It’s a bit tricky to describe what their music sounds like, because Debase sounds like no other band. I would say that they play “Debase metal” and you can instantly hear that it’s them who play. But to simplify it, I can describe it as just heavy metal. The band has also developed a lot in terms of their writing and Michael’s voice has gone through a lot of changes. Compared to his efforts on the previous albums, his voice now sounds a lot more aggressive, and he has developed a wider vocal range. Jonas and Sigges guitar playing sounds razor-sharp and the demon behind the drums, Johan, impresses a lot as usual. Johan is one of the younger drum-heroes right now here in Sweden and I can guarantee that he will become one of the greater influences for many of the younger drummers out there. The guys have also convinced Johan, who is a big fan of 70’s hard rock, to use double bass pedals - something that he refused to play before.
It feels like I must have played “UNLEASHED” a million times now and I can say it’s been hard NOT to listen to this brilliant album. All of the versions that were on the promo sampler made it to the finished album, but somewhat re-arranged. The new versions of the songs sound even better on the album.
“HOLY CARAVAN” has an intro with some heavy grinding guitars before Micke starts off the song whispering his lyrics. Then the music starts off and the tempo rises along with Michael’s voice that now sounds rather angry. The song closes as it begins with only guitars. “PLEASUREDOME” sounds just like Debase should - heavy grinding metal with a lot of tempo changes and an angry Michael high up in the mix throughout the song. “RESTRAINED” begins with an intro with only Michael before the rest of the guys join in. Again, Michael is very high up in the sound picture along with some really nice guitar playing. “ELECTED” starts off with guitar and drums before the band joins in and the speed rises. There are a lot of tempo changes and Michael has some help from the rest of the band in parts of the chorus. In the middle of the song there is a slower part just as in the beginning of the track before it returns to heavy grinding metal. “INORDINATE DESIRE” opens with a slow tempo and all of the guys except Michael (who comes in a bit later) sing the first verse. After that, the tempo rises a bit in the chorus before it turns into the same pace as in the beginning. In the middle Sigge and Jonas show off on guitar. In “SCHIZOPHRENIA” Michael sounds schizophrenic and really sick like he belongs in a mental hospital! It’s heavy Debase metal with some tempo changes. Luckily Michael changes his voice after the first sentences and he sings with his ordinary voice again. This song has big potentials to become a hit. In the beginning of “SYMPHONY FOR THE UNHOLY” there are keyboards, something that sounds like church choirs and acoustic guitar. Michael almost whispers the first verse before he turns into his regular voice and the tempo rises. Michael has an amazing voice with many nuances in it. This could almost be taken for a ballad. In my opinion this song is one of two somewhat weaker tracks on this otherwise extraordinary album. “THE BLOOD REMAINS” starts with Johan playing double bass pedals. Michael, Jonas and Sigge have a big part in the mix. This is what they should sound like - hard and heavy guitar based metal. “HELLRAISER” is probably the fastest song I’ve ever heard from Debase. Michael shifts between ordinary vocals and his more angry voice throughout out the song. Personally, I like the original version on the promo sampler better. In “SOULCOLLECTOR”, Johan really shows what he has behind the drums. “UNLEASHED” starts off with only guitars in the beginning before everyone comes in. There is some real heavy metal in the verses and in the chorus the tempo slows down a bit. In this song they have used keyboard and that makes it sound a little darker. This song closes Debase’s third album, this song is the other one who isn’t quite as strong as the others.
I don’t have many complaints of this album. Micko has done a really brilliant job with production. Debase have developed a lot over the years. That, together with a great front man, two very competent guitarists, a demon behind the drums, and strong songs makes this album almost a jackpot. There’s nothing bad to say about this album at all besides the two songs I’ve mentioned earlier. This third album is brilliant and it’s going to be really hard to beat this one. Debase deserves some success and I hope they have enough back up from the label to achieve it.