A weird thing happens when you get older. You start to meet people or work with people or whatever, and you realize that the era in which you went to college, started your first job, and made your first horrible decisions, these people were just being born. It’s mind-blowing, yet it’s just a natural part of the passage of time. New people come in to exist alongside and eventually replace the old guard.
I also got to thinking about that whole thing when tackling “Downfall Rising,” the first full-length from Swedish death crew Wombbath since 1993. Think of all the things that took place just in metal since that time. The rise of death metal to major-label status. The burning down of the second wave of black metal. The absolute scourge on humanity that was nu metal. The weird twists and eventual returns to glory for metal legends Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. New generations were born and died since the time Wombbath delivered “Internal Caustic Torments,” and a lot has changed within Wombbath’s ranks itself, as one might assume with that much time passed between albums.
The 2015 version of Wombbath claims but one original member, that being guitarist Håkan Stuvemark, who has been at it from the start and saw the name on to this point. There have been a lot of members go in and out the doors, but the ones we have for this brutal second record are bassist/vocalist Jonny Pettersson, guitarist Al Riglin, and drummer Henrik Åberg, who make for quite the force. The band remains in the same vein they always have, meting out furious, melody-twinged death metal in the same vein as Bolt Thrower and Entombed (among others), and this album never fails to scratch that itch. Over the course of eight tracks and about 32 minutes, the band reclaims their glory and delivers hearty, tried-and-true death that’ll make you envision clouds of smoke and dust on an old battlefield.
“Intro” gets things off to a proper start, with eerie sounds swirling and the cries of millions of souls being extinguished being smeared in front of you. Then it’s onto “Under Apokalypsens Svarta Vingar,” a grimy, stampeding song that goes right for the throat and refuses to let go. The vocals are properly gruff, and the pace causes pain and misery. There’s a nice, crunchy chorus that will get etched in your head, and the band spends the bulk of this violently announcing their return. “Underneath the Rotten Soil” lights up right away, with the growls belchy and a little slower, and the riffs later helping this thing blow open and flatten its enemies. The last bits delve into doomy waters, with the guitars channeling the hopeless fog. “I Am the Abyss” has a stirring orchestral synth opening, leading into unforgiving mauling, with Pettersson howling, “I have reached the end of the line.” The track swelters and burns from there, taking you into battle-tested guitars and a smothering, hammering finish.
“Fall of the Weak” is the longest track of the bunch at 6:44, starting with static spitting, clean guitars trickling, and the track crumbling into doomy power that wields a thick sword. The growls are throttling and powerful, while the guitars conjure great glory and fire, leading to a scathing final march that dissolves into killer chugs. “Putrid and Bound (By the Seed of Satan)” has guitars swirling, an uneasy sense of things surrounding you, and later some work that pokes at classic death metal and thrash from the era they helped create. Later, the drums erupt, with sludge pouring in and creating nothing but havoc. “Paid in Blood” is the fastest thing on the record, just ripping by and doing as much damage as it can along the way. The vocals are savage and shrieky, while the music feels like it’s pouring tons and tons of cement as recklessly as possible. Closer “Abandonment Furthermore” is the shortest cut at 2:16, and it’s also the weirdest. Synth strings create mystery, while that element sits behind all the heaviness here. In fact, it gives the song a goth feel, as it trucks along, burning out in a haze of smoke.
Wombbath may have had their journey cut short a long time ago, but the passage of time has only caused their fires to burn more dangerously. “Downfall Rising” sounds fresh, relevant, and if we’re being honest, totally needed here in 2015 when much of death is losing its luster. These guys are driven to clobber, and hopefully we won’t have to wait as long for record three. If we do, hell, a lot of people in their audience might be dead!
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Wombbath
To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/