Released: 2011, Agonia Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
With a name like Mr. Death, you probably have a good idea of what to expect. Yeeeah boi, we’re talkin’ old school Swedish death metal son. The Stockholm based five-piece came together out of a mutual love of 90’s death metal and Mr. Death evolved into a vehicle to promote that heralded sound. Their latest release, DESCENDING THROUGH ASHES, is a good but not great expression of their admiration of the old school.
Let’s start with the good. Mr. Death gets the “vibe” of the early Swedish scene spot on, for better or worse. The guitar levels with no mid-range, the Sunlight Studios production sound, the angry belching guttural vocals, it’s all there. And when the songs come together, the formula really clicks and it’s a damn fine time. The opening 1-2 punch of “To Armageddon” and “The Plague and the World” hit in just the right spots and get the blood flowing. If only the rest of the album followed suit.
Now, the not so good. DESCENDING THROUGH ASHES quickly loses steam and gets mired in a stretch of mediocre, mid-paced generic metal riffs. The tunes aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re interchangeable and generally not that interesting. The thing that made bands like Dismember, Afflicted, Entombed, Unleashed, Hyprocrisy (and on, and on, and on) such juggernauts was their ability to write memorable tracks within such a brutal context. Mr. Death gets the context right, but the songs don’t have much identity. Again, the tunes aren’t bad, but if I’ve got 40 minutes to kill and I had to choose between Mr. Death and LIKE AN EVER FLOWING STREAM…Oh yeah, the band performs in business suits covered in blood and stuff. That’s kind of neat, right?
So yeah, DESCENDING THROUGH ASHES gets an “E” for effort, but not quite a passing grade. I know there are contingencies within the metal community who eat/sleep/breathe this kind of stuff, so to them I say “go nuts.” For everyone else, check out Mr. Death’s website for samples before descending any further.