Spearhead - _Decrowning the Irenarch_
(Invictus Productions, 2007)
by: Andreas Marouchos (8.5 out of 10)
_Decrowning the Irenarch - The Doctrine of Imperial Fidelity and the Supertemporal Divine Right of War_; quite a mouthful, is it not? Yet behind its sententious title, this album grabs you from the proverbial balls early on and never lets go until it hits the finish mark. As far as steps forward are concerned, first thing that strikes is the production, which although not as Morrisound-ingly "greasy around the edges" as one might've expected, it's definitely of a professional calibre -- and what's more, it suits the band's sound quite nicely. Lyrically, they are concerned with the perpetual struggle of Man through what one might infer as an Evola-esque polemic directed against today's societal status quo of spiritual languidness and unmotivated mediocrity and our laughable state of modernity. (Incidentally, Irenarch is actually a Greek word from Irene (i.e. "peace") and Archon (i.e. "lord" or "ruler"), which roughly translates to peace keeper -- the more you know...)

This neo-traditionalism in lyrical concept is reflected in their brutal, yet retro musical aesthetics. It harkens back to the period where death metal was, well... death metal: gritty, thrashy, hairy and with attitude. Forget groovy breakdowns, ridiculously down-tuned guitars and guttural vocals; this is straightforward, quality death metal spawned straight from the foul womb of early Morbid Angel, Sepultura and of course Angelcorpse. Solid basslines and imposingly energetic drumwork form a bolstering rhythmical framework that cohesively holds the band's formidable delivery together, and at the same time makes it noticeably much more focused and organised compared to the incipient, testosterone-fuelled efforts of otherwise adolescent forages into death metal territory.

Their bludgeoning mid-tempo pieces are quite redolent of Bolt Thrower, something practically unavoidable given their British heritage, yet their songwriting is decisively -not- a hackneyed pastiche of warmed-over cut-and-paste riffage. Instead, they prudently adhere to concise, to-the-fucking-point song structures, and fall back to high-octane blasting only where it's needed. All in all, _Decrowning the Irenarch_ is a middle finger raised against all who thought that death metal had lost its teeth to mindless plagiarising and br00tal drivel. You might've been forgiven if this pernicious little outfit escaped your radars up until now; but if you've missed this album, then you've quite probably missed out of one of death metal's finest hours for 2007.

Contact: http://www.spearhead.cjb.net

(article published 25/2/2008)

8/24/2006 A Marouchos 7.5 Spearhead - Deathless Steel Command
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