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Shadow Realms
December 2015
Released: 2015, Century Media Records
Rating: 3.5/5
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.
Track Listing

1. The Emperor
2. Imperial Burning
3. Lucifer Has Spoken
4. Spirit of the Black Tide
5. Contemplate Death
6. All Hail
7. Ruination
8. Necromance
9. Shadow realms
10. Ginnunga
11. Infernal Eternal


LG Petrov - vocals
Fredrik Folkare - guitars
Victor Brandt - guitars
A. Impaler - bass
Matte Modin - drums

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» Shadow Realms
by Peter Atkinson

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