The Swedish death metal scene is revered and has been for years, as the Scandinavian country has pumped out a ton of vital, pioneering bands such as At the Gates, Entombed, Carnage, Opeth, and more. But there are other bands from that nation that have had a mighty pull on what extreme music would become who haven’t been celebrated quite as heavily.
In a similar fashion as the revisiting of Nirvana 2002 a few years back, God Macabre’s sole full-length record “The Winterlong” is getting reissue treatment from Relapse Records. This comes on the heels of their successful, well-received set at Maryland Deathfest on Memorial Day weekend (their first appearance in the United States ever!), as well as word the band was gearing back up for other actions in the future. People who had followed God Macabre, whose debut came out after the group had gone inactive, were excited about what was to come, and having this deluxe, remastered version of “The Winterlong” is the perfect way to celebrate their revival some 20 years after they faded away.
Now, yes, Relapse also reissued the record in 2002, along with the tracks from their “Consumed By Darkness” demo (from when they were Macabre End), so perhaps a new copy with expanded packaging doesn’t sound like a must-have if you own the last version of the record. But if you’re clinging to the 2002 version (or even the one put out by Blood Harvest), you’re missing one of the main attractions of this 2014 reissue—a new song from the band, the first since they finished their debut. Yes, “Life’s Verge” might be just one track, but it gives the first glimpse into what further new material from the band might sound like, and it’s the most exciting part of this project. As for the current lineup, three-fifths of the band’s lineup remains intact with vocalist Per Boder (Morbrand), and guitarists Jonas Stalhammar (Bombs of Hades, Darkcreed) and Ola Sjoberg still on board. But they have a new rhythm section in bassist Bjorn Larsson (Mordbrand, d) and drummer Tobias Gustafsson (Torture Division), who more than prove their worth and were absolute maulers live.
Rehashing the entire record is kind of pointless since the songs have been available for 21 years now, but hearing it in 2014 as opposed to 1993 really makes no difference sonically. It’s raw, explosive, and massive, a true sign of where the Swedish death metal scene was to go. And sure, there are tons of bands today that have aped this very approach, but most don’t really hold a candle to these songs. Tracks including the massive opener “Into Nowhere”; the blistering and doomy “Ashes of Mourning Life”; and murky, violent “In Grief,” the closer on the original version of the record, actually go further toward showing that no matter how many followers come along and try to crowd your path, you just can’t topple the originators. These songs are as heavy and crushing as ever, and they’ve not lost an ounce of their intensity over the years. Surely the MDF crowd that actually had the honor of seeing this band in the flesh can attest to that.
You also get the “Consumed By Darkness” demo, highlighted by the brief but charred title cut that blasts by in no time; “Ceased To Be,” a clubbing, burly, and raw cut that’s highlighted by some damn raspy vocals; and “Spawn of Flesh,” that also dabbles in doom and ugliness. But it’s that one new cut “Life’s Verge” that really gets the juices flowing. It’s the first new track from God Macabre in more than two decades, and a nice touch is that it isn’t glossed up with modern production values. It sounds as guttural and nasty as the other 10 tracks on here, making it fit like a miserable, bloody glove. It’s heavy, massive, and a blast of fun to hear this band sounding as great as ever, and the potential of more new music, or even a full-length album, is a welcome thing.
“The Winterlong” is a Swedish death metal classic, even if it didn’t lead to the band becoming one of the two or three that comes out of everyone’s mouth when discussing that scene. The record stood the test of time, as has the band after such a long hiatus, and it’s not too late for them for forcefully interject themselves into the conversation. Anyone with an interest in the origins of Scandinavian death metal or just wants to get one of the great unsung progenitors of the sound absolutely have to have this killer slab in their collections.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/godmacabreofficial
To buy the album, go here: http://www.relapse.com/store.html
For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com/