Hearse - _Single Ticket to Paradise_
(Vic Records, 2009)
by: Mark Dolson (9.5 out of 10)
Hearse are plying their wares again; and so they continue to bring us that highly unique brand of death 'n' roll that is somewhat similar to, but still quite different from related acts such as Convulse and later-era Carcass. Although I thoroughly enjoy all of Hearse's releases, I honestly think that their latest offering _Single Ticket to Paradise_is, perhaps, their best album yet. You won't find too many major changes to their approach, though, as the band pretty much pick up where they left off with _In These Veins_; however, there are a few interesting progressions that deserve mention.

First off, Johan Liiva's characteristic gruff shout sounds better than ever -- it sounds much more brutal, frenetic and angry on this album, and I think it's awesome. For example, just listen to the first track after the intro: the energetic pace just makes you want to roar along with Liiva. Aside from Furbowl's _Those Autumn Years_ (1994), and Non Exist's _Deus Deceptor_(2002), I think this might be Liiva's best performance yet.

Regarding the guitars: Mattias Ljung's trademark solos are just as excellent as they were before, with their "rocky", melodic and twangy edge to them; but what I did notice right away -- especially after listening to tracks like "Misanthropic Charades", "The Moth", and "The Ferocious Embrace" -- is a rejuvenated sense of depressive, almost haunting melody in some of the solos and refrains (that we really haven't seen since _Pathfinder_). Subtended as the melodies are by Hearse's typical fast, Swedish sounding riffs, this creates the perfect balance between despondent beauty (if there is such a thing) and rough brutality. I have to admit that the aforementioned songs have been stuck in my head for weeks. The drumming is also steady, solid and precise, and we see Mr. Max Thornell incorporating a little more double-bass work than found on previous albums -- which is definitely good, as it adds that extra dimension to the music.

Another noticeable difference is the production and recording: Mr. Swanö has created one of the best productions I've heard in a long, long time. It's strange, but I have to say that the production of the album alone is just a pleasure to listen to on my car stereo. You'll have to listen for yourself, but the guitars, cymbals, tom-toms and bass drum sound are just incredible: they sound heavy, balanced, and full. Gone are they days of Swanö's thin and trebly productions (cf. Edge of Sanity's _Purgatory Afterglow_ from 1994, Ghostorm's _Frozen in Fire_ from 1995, and, especially, Gates of Ishtar's _The Dawn of Flames_from 1997 -- all excellent albums, but the productions left much to be desired).

All said and done, I would highly recommend that all fans of the death 'n' roll sub-genre rush out and buy this album -- you won't be disappointed. As another point of interest, Hearse have made a very high quality and interesting video for the track "Sundown", which is featured on the second bonus disc (along with a live DVD featuring five songs and picture chapter) that comes with the retail copy of _Single Ticket to Paradise_.

Contact: http://www.myspace.com/hearsesweden

(article published 1/13/2010)


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