Firespawn: Shadow Realms

Swedeath veterans transcend supergroup tag

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Forming one-off side-projects in order to indulge their basest needs is almost second nature for Swedish death metal dudes.

So despite the fact is that Firestorm is L-G Petrov’s first infidelity to Entombed since fronting Comecon’s Megatrends In Brutality album in 1992, you’d be excused for thinking that this is another typical case of bulletproof veterans getting together to have some good old fun and crank out a few hastily put-together songs. It’s not.

Forget that three out of their five members are over 40, Firespawn’s very 21st-century brand of death metal bears few points in common with their members’ day jobs, reflected by L-G’s far more guttural performance compared to his usual rasp. But the real stars on Shadow Realms are its pair of guitarists – Unleashed and Necrophobic’s Fredrik Folkare joining forces with Norwegian transplant Victor Brandt from Entombed AD – and its drummer, Matte Modin, formerly of Defleshed and Dark Funeral.

It’s not just that the two guitars meld perfectly brutal riffing with pure metal classicism and class, down to their carefully crafted melodic solos, or that Matt’s extremely precise and highly caffeinated snare drum technique can reach lightspeed pace without losing even a hint of focus; it’s simply all about how all three feed off each other and work together as one. When they go fast, they go really fast, and when they slow things down and take a more domineering pose, they do it with a sense of purpose and confidence that betrays their lifelong dedication to the genre, while always remaining accessible.

Even the whole Luciferian/Satanic stance of the lyrical content somehow doesn’t sound as clichéd as it should, but instead enhances the overall feeling of grandeur. If you see your average regular death metal album as a good old horror b-movie with a tiny budget yet with a lot of gore, think of Shadow Realm as the audio equivalent of 300 if you will: a shiny, fancy and in-your-face, blood-splattered spectacle, and purposely brutish blockbuster. Raise your shields, Behemoth, Firespawn are after you and they’re in for the kill.