Spirit in Flames
(Copro Records) Enslain Magazine Volume 2, Issue 1 Old-School to the core! When I first heard this, I had to check the date on the CD, to make sure this wasn't actually released in 1990! This is not to say that this material is dated; this is just as pure as death-metal gets. The songs are riff-oriented, and have a great deal of "groove". There are no walls of sound, or ultra-speed barrages of un-musical filler. What you hear is simply well produced and performed death metal, in the classic vein, as well as it can possibly be done.
Massive blocks of muted guitar chords abound, as well as mid-paced 16th note picking. The drums and bass tie everything together in a rhythmically complimentary fashion. The leads are almost text-book old school, ranging from speedy minor and diminished passages to more bluesy pentatonic ones. It's a reminder of what a guitar lead used to be/should be. I remember bands used to play leads the way MTV actually used to play videos. The vocals are fairly clear, and not too raspy. At times they even lean in a sort of less intense punk direction, in which times John Walker sounds a slight bit like Barney Greenway.
The first half of the record is relatively straight forward, but in the second half, one will definitely notice a few different sounds which grab the listener's interest in a juxtaposition of the old and new, taking for example the jazzy drum intro of the track "Sťance". Still , I hate to call this "old-school"; perhaps more like "classic death metal". The point is that when it's done right, as it is on "Spirit in Flames", it has far greater aesthetic value than anything that is new but uninspired and directionless. "Spirit in Flames" is a refreshing dose of the past in a present day context.