Much like ‘difficult second albums’ and cancelled tours due to exhaustion, the side-project is a staple of rock and metal. Since time immemorial (well, the 70s), this subgenre has usually been favoured by bored egotists and huffy bandmembers, but every once in a while that trend is bucked and a team-up comes along that is so titanic, it could provoke WWE mogul Vince McMahon to pack up shop and go home. Sweden’s The Lurking Fear are one such act and their debut is a frighteningly good celebration of crust-flecked, old-school death metal.
Named after an HP Lovecraft short story and featuring At The Gates’ Tomas Lindberg and Adrian Erlandsson alongside members of Disfear, The Haunted and Skitsystem, Out Of The Voiceless Grave is an urgent and intense opus that’s just as ferocious as their pedigree suggests. Comprised of 12 tunes, all of which were written solely for the band, the songs might be economical in length (nothing breaks the five-minute mark) but there’s no shortage of ideas or raw, primal power. The macabre title track sets the scene nicely and tips its cap to old gothic horror scores before they unleash absolute mayhem on the vicious Vortex Spawn. Brimming with meaty riffs by the bucketload, Teeth Of The Dark Plains is a huge highlight thanks to a stunning trad metal-informed guitar solo and sections that call to mind early Death, while Tongued With Foul Flames has a gloriously gritty vocal from Tomas. Though the band are keen to distance themselves from the ‘supergroup’ label, there’s no denying that their union has delivered something remarkable and they sound both fresh and familiar. The likes of the chilling and thrilling Upon Black Winds, which concludes with an ace, eerie, piano-led coda and the biting The Cold Jaws Of Death both prove that this debut is much more than a vanity project for all concerned and, overall, the opus is as good as anything they’ve put their names to in the past. Here’s hoping there’s a second LP in the pipeline.