Released: 2004, Century Media
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
The third release from The Forsaken continues on the tradition of monstrously heavy Swedish death. Similar to the works of Naglfar, Amon Amarth and Grave, TRACES OF THE PAST sees the band further exploring their melodic side but retaining the heaviness seen previously, especially on their debut, MANIFEST OF HATE. This CD was released late in 2003 in Europe, but the North American release features five bonus tracks: two Metallica covers, one each from Slayer and Grave, as well as a reworking of one of their own tracks.
The first three tracks showcase Anders Sjoholm’s brilliant rasp and the dual guitar attack of Stefan Holm and Patrick Persson. Sjoholm screams and growls like a possessed madman while the riffs come fast and furious. “Serpent’s Tongue” is a slower-paced track that sets into a nice groove with furious double bass from Nicke Grabowski and a searing guitar solo. “The Empire” also has an amazing guitar solo in it. “First Weapon of Choice” rounds things out with a brutal vengeance. A heavy riff and Grabowski’s speedy feet give this track a solid foundation to remember the band by until next time. Only wait…there are still five tracks to go! The Forsaken’s take on Metallica’s “Blackened” is noteworthy because this is how the music should have sounded before the botched production job on …AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. Sjoholm’s voice is the polar opposite of James Hetfield’s and his roar adds some great depth to the song. “Creeping Death” is sped up quite a bit and the “DIE! DIE! DIE” vocals remain intact. “Blackened” is definitely the better of the two, though. Thankfully, The Forsaken chose a different Slayer track to cover than the usual suspects and do a decent job of “Spirit in Black.” I could have done without the bullhorn vocals in the verses, though. The best of the bunch is “You’ll Never See,” originally done by Grave in 1992. All the brutality of the original has remained and Sjoholm’s vocals sound positively evil. The riffs and bass line get under your skin right away and it’s a wonder why more people don’t know of this excellent band. Good on The Forsaken for choosing them! The last track is “Project: The New Breed 666,” a leftover from The Forsaken’s debut album. Why was this left off MANIFEST OF HATE? The track is heavy as hell and perfectly suited for either record.
I’m glad that The Forsaken haven’t softened their sound or brought keyboards into the mix like Soilwork, for example. This is insanely heavy Swedish melodic death metal played by musicians who are unrelenting in their delivery. From the opening notes of “A Time to Die” to the machine gun finale of “Project: The New Breed 666,” TRACES OF THE PAST never lets up and you’ll be left gasping for air when it finally does.
KILLER KUTS: “A Time to Die,” “One More Kill,” “Acid with Acid-Piece by Piece,” “Serpent’s Tongue,” “First Weapon of Choice”