Released: 2015, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Boasting Entombed/Entombed A.D vocalist LG Petrov and guitarist Victor Brandt, ex-Dark Funeral drummer Matte Modin, and Necrophobic guitarist Fredrik Folkare and bassist A. Impaler, Firespawn are a formidable collection of Swedish death metal royalty. And while “super groups” can be a dubious proposition – great lineups but often underwhelming music – Firespawn, for the most part, deliver the goods on Shadow Realm.
They wisely avoid taking the obvious musical course – old school buzz-saw death 'n roll a la Entombed or Dismember this is not. Instead Firespawn lean more toward the blackened death metal aspects of the band's membership, with a cleaner sound and more complex attack that echoes Morbid Angel, Deicide or Behemoth. The crunching “Lucifer Has Spoken” and “All Hail” even offer a distinct hint of “modern metal” with their meaty hooks, deliberate pace and Petrov's imposing growl.
Much of Shadow Realms rides a turbulent ebb and flow as Modin's tempos alternate between frantic blast beats, martial grooves and rivet-gun double bass runs. The elasticity of the material is one of the album's strong points as it hopscotches from the slash-and-burn death metal of the Deicide-like “Ruination,” the more melodic, pick-sweepy thrash of “Ginnunga,” the blackened sprawl of “Imperial Burning” and the almost White Zombie-like heave of “All Hail.”
The catchy choruses of, for instance, “Necromance” are about as Entombed-like as things get, which isn't exactly a bad thing given the wild inconsistencies of that band's post-Wolverine Blues work. And freed from Entombed/Entombed A.D.'s constraints, Petrov sounds more forceful and lethal than he has in ages hollering over this mixed bag of metal extremity.
Dunno if this is a one-off or something these guys intend on keeping rolling into the future. As a standalone, it's a wicked, rather jarring surprise – something at least I didn't expect given the band's lineage and leadership. As a stepping stone, though, not sure where Firespawn would go from here. They cover a lot of sonic ground on Shadow Realms and may have tapped all of their ammo. I guess time will tell.