A while back, I posted a short blurb about an EP by a folksy death metal outfit from Sweden called Fisherman's Death. Well they noticed my short article, and sent me a link to their new full-length. I've been sidetracked and I've neglected this blog for the past few weeks, so I'm just now getting around to writing up this review of The Code.
First off, the songs on that EP, "Among the Shore", appear in fresh recordings on this album as well. The newer production is a minor improvement, with some of the instrumentation coming through a little more clearly than it had on the prior versions. It's not a night-and-day difference, but though, so if you happen to have the EP those songs won't really be a big upgrade for you.
Now, on to this album. The music does have a bit of a folk flair, but contrary to its Metal Archives entry I'd be inclined to call this melodic death metal. It's well performed, reasonably tight, and it retains enough grit to still warrant the "death" in its label. The music has a good flow to it, and I found myself really getting into it as the album progressed. The band have struck up an appropriate balance between heaviness and melody that can be hard for young groups (they formed in 2009) to find. Infectiously catchy lead riffs propel the songs forward, with drumming that compliments the music rather than than just attempting to pummel the listener into submission. The vocals are good too: I like death growls that are articulate enough to understand. In that respect, the vocals remind me a bit of listening to Bloodbath.
On the down side, the music does pull enough from the history of Swedish death metal that most listeners won't find the overall sound terribly original. The band alleviates that issue to some extent by putting a new twist on their lyrical subject, though. Rather than focusing on the same Viking raids, warfare, and Norse mythology as droves of their countrymen, these Swedes instead sing about the seafaring struggles of the common fishermen who have filled their coastal villages for centuries. Some people don't care enough about lyrics in metal to be swayed by this, but personally I enjoy their use of a fresh subject matter that still has deep roots in the band's national heritage.
The music is good, enjoyable Swedish death metal with just enough of a twist to differentiate it from the crowd, but with a sound still firmly rooted in that nation's classic death metal material.