I am not a heavy metal aficionado, although I did enjoy the more pop-oriented groups like Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard and Metallica in my high school and college years. A friend in a black metal band informs me that the vocal style that so turned me off this disc is typical of death metal, but that doesn’t make it any more palatable to the masses. Just because your sound is heavy doesn’t mean the vocalist shouldn’t sing and, hopefully, sing well. Listening to Johan Schuster shriek his way thru this disk is like listening to someone scrape his fingernails down a chalkboard while throwing a temper tantrum: it’s ear-piercing, guttural, and indecipherable.
Perhaps I am focusing too much on just one aspect of the music, but the vocals so dominate the album that one can hardly distinguish, much less focus on, the instrumentation behind them. In addition, this Swedish group faces another obstacle to mass appeal: a lack of originality. Every song starts out the same, with a thrashing, frantic guitar and heavy drums, and it is difficult to distinguish one track from the next. Schuster keeps his screaming in check for much of the last track, “Heart,” which I was able to appreciate. Recommended only for death metal fans.