What does the third full length offering from this international collaboration bring to the table?
The answer dear Planetmosh reader, is OLD SCHOOL DEATH METAL! 10 tracks of it too.. Now I have to admit to have been ignorant of this band until now, but rest assured I’ll not be ignoring them any further!
Let us first peruse the album artwork – it pretty much sums up the lyrical inspiration heading towards your lugholes. HORROR is what Heads for The Dead are all about. And this Lucio Fulvi style movie poster artwork is perfect!
Now onto the music. As mentioned above, this is old school stuff, but a fine amalgamation of both US and Swedish styles. I’d happily sit this alongside Hypocrisy, Grave, Massacre, and Malevolent Creation in terms of its overall sound.
Groove, melody and atmosphere..
Yep, this album is chock full of all the above! The chunky riffs bounce along at a most pleasing pace from album opener “The Jewel Of The Seven Stars” right through to closer “The Fog“. Plenty of guitar solo work adds to the melody herein. Vocals are of the easily discernable type as per the above mentioned comparison bands. No pointless pig squealing or guttural burps in this release! And Oh yes – the album title – please be noting that it is the only real similarity to a very similarly titled Opeth song (The Grand Conjuration from Ghost Reveries!)
Now being a horror themed band, it is only appropriate that we get some songs with samples from horror movies, or of a horrific nature to add to the atmosphere. “The Breaking Wheel” being a fine example, with screams at the start and interspaced throughout the length of the song.
Ominous low keyboards set the tone for “The Bloodline“. A much slower paced song compared to the first half of the album, it does soon pick up into a real groove that will have head bobbing and feet tapping.
Never one dimensional..
The beauty of old-school death metal for me has always been its listenability. I quickly get bored of the guttural slam pig-squeal, and overtly technical forms. This album is everything you want. Every song has a hook or an earworm that pulls you along. Multi-dimensioned as opposed to one, there are movements within the songs that showcase the quality of musical prowess and writing.
For example – a martial snare roll kicks off proceedings on “World Serpent Dominion” before a very brutal riff kicks in, and then kicks your head off your shoulders… another multi faceted track for sure and probably my favourite on the album.
The final three tracks keep up the quality already shown. From the fast gallop of “The Curse” to the narrative style of “The Fog” leading us into a sinister atmosphere redolent of the John Carpenter film of the same name.
And a little surprise…
Yes, snuck in between the two above named tracks, we have a rather rousing, and fitting cover of the Roky Erickson song “Bloody Hammer“. Very NWOBHM-esque in its delivery, its a fine song done really well into this style.
Oh yes – you may also know some of the band members from their other bands! Jonny Pettersson, and Jon Rudin from WOMBBATH, Ralf Hauber from REVEL IN FLESH, and Matt Moliti from SENTIENT HORROR. None of them slouches at what they do in their other bands.
When the term “Horror metal” is seen, usually there is a slightly playful bent to the genre. And there is nothing wrong with that at all. But Heads For The Dead are full on serious, and that is what makes this a bloody fine album. This is as good as sitting and watching a great action packed horror movie. In fact it’s better than a lot of OSDM albums I have heard this year so far.
So, get your chainsaws out, your masks on, bung this onto the hi-fi at excessively loud volume, and go scare the neighbours!
The album is out now, and is available in several different formats from the bandcamp link below.
01 – The Jewel of The Seven Stars
02 – The Beast
03 – The Covenant
04 – Rotten Bastard
05 – The Breaking Wheel
06 – The Bloodline
07 – World Serpent Domination
08 – The Curse
09 – Bloody Hammer
10 – The Fog
Ralf Hauber (Vocals, Lyrics, Concept), Jonny Pettersson (Guitar, bass, keyboards, FX), Matt Moliti (Guitar solos), Jon Rudin (Drums)
- 4.99 Euros