Shadowbreed - _Only Shadows Remain_
(Painkiller, 2001)
by: Alvin Wee (7.5 out of 10)
I've always been a huge fan of Dutch death metal, but I have my reservations about Shadowbreed's newest offering. Don't expect the grinding torture of Asphyx, or the thrashy Frost-isms of Pentacle: what's on offer here is a rehashing of Unleashed's brand of semi-melodic northern death metal. Track titles like "In the Shadow of Yggdrassil" and "Battlerager" don't leave much room for doubt as to where their persuasions lie; the Viking/Northern theme shines through musically as well, if not as strongly as in some Aeturnus material. Vocalist Remigius' characteristically torrid Dutch growls have me wondering if there's something in the water over there that gives them all this higher-pitched timbre... then again, it's a refreshing change from the guttural American mic-cuppers. There's little to criticize on this album: the songwriting is competent if somewhat pedestrian, and backed up by the confident musicianship, makes for a pretty solid listen. The press-release's comparisons to Bolt Thrower and Sepultura seem largely unsubstantiated; with the exception of Unleashed (and perhaps Aeturnus) being the fore-runners in this genre, Shadowbreed come off as predominantly original. Still, it lacks the edge to make it a truly exceptional album, and with country-mates God Dethroned releasing an album almost simultaneously, Shadowbreed face tough competition from their home-land itself, not to mention internationally. Great artwork by Kris Verwimp (hey, it's a pagan theme, right?) rounds off a quality package, and all in all it's a pretty good sophomore album for these Dutch Deathsters. Released in (get ready): digipak, jewel case, LP and PicLP formats. Will never go out of print this way...

Contact: painkiller@infonie.be

(article published 13/5/2001)


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