For their introduction to mankind the German fellowes in Scythe Lore arrive unidentifiable as individuals and carrying a reasonably blown-out HM-2 guitar pedal as the only signet to their cause. The deep service they’ve done to the sound and the fury of 1990’s Swedish death metal comes with an otherwordly sense of atmosphere and an immediate collapse into brutality, doom, and crushing extremity. ‘Old school’ is it may seem, the reality of the modern day take on the Sunlight Studios sound is that it will invoke a double edged, curved blade indicating both generica and purity; Though partially true to form in some sense, the majority of Scythe Lore‘s debut 12″ MLP ‘Through the Mausoleums of Man’ aims for a strong balance of deep-set old school rhythms and ‘new old school’ atmospherics and production values. The nature of this union is occasionally confounding, though, as an admixture of say, Carnage and Nominion is at its core slightly redundant. There is yet still something here of value for the ‘classic’ death metal head and the less discerning Swedeath (well, by way of Germany) generalist.
It is easy to forget how powerful the early releases from Dismember and Carnage were thanks to the thousands of records created in their name since but ‘Dark Recollections’ is still one of the best written and uniquely achieved pieces in the Stockholm canon. I mention this because I feel there is some major love for that album expressed within ‘Through the Mausoleums of Man’. The catch is that this has been done so often it becomes necessary to further differentiate through several generations of death metal since. We’ll skip ahead a decade towards Horrid‘s ‘Blasphemic Creatures’ EP and Vomitory‘s ‘Revelation Nausea’ to begin to understand both the jogging chainsaw that Dismember became and the heady brutality of Vomitory as they tore their fists above ground. Another generation (or two) forth and Nominion‘s more urgent ‘Terra Necrosis’ and Vallenfyre‘s slightly doomed ‘A Fragile King’ each have some relevance as to where Scythe Lore sit in terms of generational affluence, variation and perspective. We haven’t gone far enough yet and the 2010’s of Swedish death metal are a fair bit more adventurous; There are some old-meets-new balanced entities with strong legacies to apply here, such as Decomposed, who found a modern enough approach that warranted escaping from the typical guitar sound and punkish structures of the old ways. They’re a big heavier, a league more occult and beautifully atmospheric with their production values but Scythe Lore do appear influenced by some version of this lineage over time and the main point being that this is a death metal album from death metalheads.
When I’d first put ‘Through the Mausoleums of Man’ on a set of three bands kept spinning in my head as they proceeded to generally blow me away; The first is Fleshcrawl and only because they’re German and sound like Dismember. The second is Centinex and specifically the ‘Subconscious Lobotomy’ album for its similarly puked vocals. The third was filled by whichever Swedish death metal album I’d been thinking of at the time, in this case the Nirvana 2002 demos. Far out as some of those comparisons might be, they give a sense of what Scythe Lore do to remain interesting beyond their bulbous guitar tone. Nothing out of the ordinary happens on ‘Through the Mausoleums of Man’ but it does feel at least a bit more considered than the typical ‘Clandestine’ rehash from young
Swedish (er, German) death metal bands today. There are plenty of barreling riffs, blasts, watery guitar solos, and a very successful vocal performance that all keep this debut feeling ‘extreme’ but mostly rooted in appreciation of nostalgia with a few key tweaks to the early 90’s Swedish sound. I’ve listened to enough of this style over the years that I could sleep through a concert next door, but I found this EP engaging enough as an introduction to the band.
If you’re still a champion for new bands touting the old ways with new atmospheric ideas and modern (dynamic) production values this is a fantastic find here in the middle of 2019. Scythe Lore are pure creepy-crawling cryptic death metal with a Scandinavian persuasion and I personally had a blast spinning this 20 minute EP on repeat for a couple of weeks. It doesn’t leave a massive impression beyond the general sense of ‘atmospheric death metal’ permeating the more ‘doom’-paced riffing within but in the moment this trio really do rip hard. Moderately high recommendation. For preview I’d say “Established Death” will burn down the house for most folks and “Jhator” has some of my favorite drumming that’d complimented Ripped to Shreds‘ recent EP as I evaluated both on a similar timeline.
Suffer me, the bloody tide. 3.75/5.0
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