2000, Century Media
This is a death metal side project band from four very capable musicians: Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth), Anders Nystrom (Katatonia), Jonas Renske (Katatonia) and Dan Swano (of too many bands and side projects to list here). What we have on this very short EP (13:16 running time, three songs) is an attempt on the part of these guys to recall something of the glory/brutality of death metal bands from the past, and construct a 'retro homage' to (I'm guessing) both the American death metal scene (i.e., bands from Florida) and older Swedish death metal, before the infection of the Gothenburg style of Maiden-worship. On that level, this is a success, as it could have easily have come from just about any band from that time period...say the late 80's or very early 90's. While the bio on the back of this promo CD speaks about this release being a 'testament and tribute to the death metal style so prolific in the States a decade ago' this really sounds much more like the form of death that bands like Entombed, Carnage, Dismember, etc. were spreading at about the same time, and that isn't surprising because at least one of these musicians (I'm speaking of Dan Swano here) was an integral part of that scene. These guys are are all Swedish, after all.
The songs are, for the most part, mid-paced grinding heavy death in the Sunlight Studio manner, with a few variations thrown into the mix here and there to make the songs distinct entities (this succeeds only marginally). The first song is, I feel, the best - and that only because Anders spins a nice simple melody underneath the main riff in the second part of the song that makes it sound more like early Katatonia that anything else- and that melody is minimal in form and realization, merely a suggestion on his part.
What really makes this interesting for me is the fact that Mikael sings on this, and it's a chance to hear him really try to reach new lows with his death growling, something he forsakes in Opeth for an attempt at controlling his voice...and utterly guttural low gravel vomits wouldn't really fit Opeth's style, anyway - those vocals are more about projecting a sense of power than anything else. Here, however, he lets it all loose and really goes for the throat (sorry) with groans, moans, and roars that must have had his larynx scraping bottom.
If you are at all interested in the other bands that these guys spend most of their time in, this might be worth purchasing for its novelty value - but it isn't really something that I could recommend based on its own merits. If this band does get together again and record a full-length (which is what the bio threatens if this EP is popular enough) then I would suggest they try to write music that is in a more original direction. I know that's not the point, that this is all for fun, etc. - but couldn't it at least be aimed at something other than nostalgia? It's a little too early for that, isn't it?