Spetälsk - Spetälsk
Unexploded Records
Black Metal
7 songs (35:02)
Release year: 2007
Unexploded Records
Reviewed by Dylan
What would you do if your top three albums of all time were Opus Nocturne, Heaven Shall Burn…When We Are Gathered and Pentagram? Assuming your mental health was intact and your rap sheet void of any charges of murder and/or arson, you would probably join a band like Spetälsk. Like I do with all the albums I review, I try to listen to each album with two ears. One ear hears a Swedish black metal outfit that deserves points for creating some slightly raw, yet very aggressive metal.

In the other, more critical ear, I can’t help but notice the fact that it sounds like no metal bands other than Marduk, Dark Funeral, and Gorgoroth have ever crossed their ears. Anyone who is remotely familiar with those bands should already know what to expect, and those who aren’t…well they probably wouldn’t be interested anyway. Having formed back in 2000, their EP Perverted Commandment was released in 2005, and has been the only output of the band until just recently. Perverted Commandment was also under Unexploded Records, though I’m quite sure that it has since faded into obscurity. Unfortunately, I get the ever so persistent feeling that this full-length will follow in the same path.

Admittedly, Spetälsk knows how to put their best foot forward, as shown in the album’s opener Behold Him. Beginning with blastbeats, dissonant tremolo and the perpetually tortured screams of singer Malign (who could pass for the brother of Marduk’s former vocalist, Legion), it moves into a galloping verse, which then gives way to a darkly melodic chorus that gives off a strong Immortal influence. Speaking of influence, the next memorable song, No More Life, sounds like it could have been a lost rack from Marduk’s Heaven Shall Burn…When We Are Gathered. I think it’s also worth noting that Marduk’s current bassist Magnus mixed this album, which also helps to explain why it sounds so similar to his band. It has a headbanging mid-paced groove and a grinding chord progression that just won’t give up.

The rest of the songs all just blend together in a blackened haze of repetition that can get tiring quite fast. As I’ve said before, these guys follow all the black metal clichés to a tee and it shows. The bass is buried under the ever-constant wall of tremolo dissonance and melancholy, all riding on top of either blastbeats or straight double bass drumming. I know this type of music is based on the final product being greater than the sum of its parts, rather than relying on individual songs for their hooks, but still…I can’t help but find my mind and ears craving something different after about 10 minutes of this.

Die-hard black metal fans can probably find more to enjoy here than I did, but even then, I can’t really see this release staying in their player for long. I have to admit that it’s solid, it’s evil, but it’s also so generic that I can’t help but feel that these guys will just end up as another tally mark on the huge and ever-growing list of Scandinavian bands that excel at fitting within the mold, but simultaneously fail to push any boundaries or do anything to really hold the listener’s attention for an extended period of time. If you love any of the older masters of this style mentioned earlier, it would be a safe bet to give this a chance. Hopefully Spetälsk can do something to put their name on the map with their next effort, but for now they have a solid black album under their belt, and not much more.
Killing Songs :
Behold Him and No More Life
Dylan quoted 60 / 100
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