Founded by vocalist David Ingram (ex-Bolt Thrower, Ursinne, Echelon) and guitarist/bassist Rogga Johansson (Paganizer, Eye of Purgatory, Necrogod), for this album, Sweden’s Down Among The Dead Men also features the talents of session musicians Kjetil Lynghaug on leads and Erik R. Bevenrud on session drums. Now three albums in, Down Among The Dead Men deliver what is arguably their heaviest, darkest, and crustiest death metal album to date: ‘…And You Will Obey Me’.
For anyone who’s a fan of the early days of Bolt Thrower, you’ll already appreciate the sound this band delivers from the offset; serving to hearken back to the glory days and rawness of traditional late-‘80s/early-‘90s death metal. Blending with the thrashier side of those early days (à la early Obituary and Morbid Angel), this album hits with the force of a sledgehammer, serving up a fine helping of traditional death metal stylings. Given the short length of each track on show, this is an album that remains musically consistent throughout, offering up unapologetic death metal with strong grind and crust elements that rear up with tense savagery. Ingram’s growls are some of the hardest I’ve heard this year, and clearly this is an album born out of many years of collected experience from its members. The whole album flows with such pace, you lose yourself before you even recognise you’re already halfway through.
The album’s inner-workings run like clockwork but are driven forward under the clever disguise of raw and unabashed harsher music. Whether it’s the guitar leads that chime up in amongst the brutality of track, The Age of Steel, or via the interesting samples chosen for the narratives of songs like Omega, this is album that was meticulously thought out. The clear intention to not sacrifice melody over brutality is prevalent here (see Eye of Harmony for an example of clever, if understated, breakdowns), and the desire of Ingram and Johansson to forge a record that not only pays homage to death metal’s bygone days but also plays off the strengths of what followed those early days is an admirable one.
It can be argued that given the need wasn’t felt to chronicle the strengths and/or weaknesses of each song individually that this can be seen as a notch in the album’s favour. That the album maintains its identity throughout is an important one, and moreover, while it can be argued this is an album that doesn’t break new ground, I don’t believe this was their intention anyhow. At this point in the game, ground is very difficult to be broken; given almost everything has now been done. Where ‘…And You Will Obey Me’ works is in its transparency. This album is a straight-up death metal grind/crust album, and it owns that completely. It isn’t necessarily technical like many of its modern counterparts in the scene, but it doesn’t need to be. ‘…And You Will Obey Me’ is heavy and venomous like death metal was back in the day and earns it badge through its sheer relentless, pulsating spit-in-your-face attitude.
However, it must be noted too that this isn’t an album that will appeal to all. While its strength and honesty as an album musically outweighs the negatives, this is a fairly straight-cut record from start to finish. After the first couple of songs, you can guarantee you’ve heard and know what you’re in for. That being said, the power of Ingram’s harsh vocals is worth the price of admission alone – this guy can growl! Ultimately, if you’re after an album this year comprising ten tracks of brutality, tasty leads, and vitriol, do yourself a favour and check this one out.
‘…And You Will Obey Me’ is out today! Grab your copy HERE.