Released: 2017, Non Serviam Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Five years and several departed members after their debut EP Hallucination, Sweden's In Reverence make an imposing and rather resounding return with their first full-length. Formerly a quintet, now a trio, the band seem no worse for the wear from the turnover – gone are guitarist Sebastian Wedholm and bassist Dennis Morgun from the EP - or the long break.
The Selected Breed offers a mix of atmospheric death metal flavored by liberal splashes of black metal velocity and occasionally thunderous doomy asides that channels the likes of Behemoth, Morbid Angel, Dimmu Borgir and the heavier side of Paradise Lost without ever really sounding too much like any of them. Indeed, In Reverence deliver it all with authority, conviction and a guile one might expect from a much more seasoned band.
The album's bold, resonant production certainly helps in that regard. The sound here is huge and clean, yet without seeming clinical or excessive, allowing heft and nuance the proper balance. Hats off to Sverker Widgren who recorded, mixed and mastered The Selected Breed. The results are both majestic and brutal.
Pedram Khatibi Shahidi's multi-tracked guitar weaves soaring melodies over concussive riffs on the opening track “Jahilah,” “Promotheus” and the title track, etc., and adds fleet black metal tremolo over the grind of “God of Dehumanization” or “The Sixth Bloodletting” to build scale and depth, bringing an almost symphonic feel to the overall presentation. Granted this will be impossible to pull off in a live environment without a second guitarist – or a lot of backing tracks – but it makes for a grand spectacle here.
This atmosphere is countered to a degree by frontman Filip Danielsson's guttural roar that hint strongly of deathcore - recalling Whitechapel's Phil Bozeman in their deep, atonal, jet-engine delivery – even if the band rarely ventures anywhere near that territory, the lumbering chuggy parts of “Anthropogeny” perhaps being the exception. Regardless, their ominous tone and utter ferocity ensure the band never sound too ostentatious, no matter how many layers are piled on.
Despite the various elements that are employed here, In Reverence do themselves a big favor by not making things too complicated or complex. The songs are brisk and efficient and seem focused more on maximizing the sonic power than being overly elaborate or showy. And there is plenty of power to go around on The Selected Breed.