Not many melodic death metal bands hail from Australia, but Berserkerfox calls the land down under home. After releasing two EPs, in which 2009’s KING KONG ON CRACK created a positive buzz in the metal underground, the band has released their debut album HISTORY.ALTAR.ASHES. The band cites Iron Maiden, At The Gates, and Metallica as key influences and this is accurate. I would include In Flames as well, particularly concerning the melodic elements the band incorporates. From the cool album art, to the focused and tight song writing, Berserkerfox has put their stamp on the melodic death metal brand.
First thing I need to make clear is that this is exactly what is promoted: melodic death metal. The songs are mid-paced, rarely venturing into warp speed tempos. Likewise the vocals, while guttural and spewing, are not of the Cannibal Corpse cookie monster vintage. Actually, they are closer to black metal vocals but the comparisons with that genre end there. Berserkerfox does many things well and perhaps the most noticeable strength is their ability of restraint in constructing the songs. There are some intricate sections, but most songs are allowed to breath and are assimilated easily, instead of rapid and constant time changes. The guitar work is outstanding as well, as evidenced by “Within The I’s Mind”, with accurate tremolo picking, melodic riffs and a compact solo. I am not a big fan of Daniel \”Muzzi\” Mozumder’s vocals, but the music more than compensates for this, and in fairness his approach is better than the overused bowel grind style.
The strengths of HISTORY.ALTAR.ASHES outweigh the flaws, but certainly the album would have benefited from a brighter production job. Things are a bit muddy in places, but the mix volumes are balanced. This album, like many debut albums, is slightly hampered by a general lack of variety in the songs, a sameness element that occasionally borders on monotony. The compact brevity of the songs helps counter the variety problems, as all nine tracks are five minutes or less. Reining in the progressive elements that many melodic death bands use to clutter their songs has made HISTORY.ALTAR.ASHES a very listenable and respectable debut album. I would recommend this one to melodic death metal fans only, as the Cannibal Corpse and Deicide school of death metal fans are likely to find this lacking the brutality they are accustomed to hearing.
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