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Some death metal super groups have delivered wholeheartedly, particularly Bloodbath and Vallenfyre. The members of both these groups all play in bands that started out as pure death metal acts but eventually steered onto other musical paths. The key to the success of the former group is the sheer joy of stepping back to the roots. The success of the latter outfit comes from the honesty of using said roots to express pain and loss.
Firespawn features members from Emtombed A.D., Necrophobic and the sadly folded Defleshed. Neither of these acts stepped too far away from their original death metal sound and the joy of heading down memory lane is thus sorely missed. I don't doubt the band had a great time in the studio and really put their hearts into this, but it simply doesn't rub off on the music.
The music on 'Shadow Realms' is pure Swedish death metal of Entombed, Dismember and Grave descent. Apart from a few black metal-oriented passages in the vein of Necrophobic there are few surprises found here. Sure, it is a delight hearing Matte Modin battering drums once more and Alex Friberg's bass is admirably distinguishable in the mix.
When it comes down to the songwriting though 'Shadow Realms' falls really short. The choruses of 'Lucifer Has Spoken', 'All Hail' and 'Ginnunga' strike somewhat of a nerve, but at the same time I struggle to remember a single riff or guitar line from this album despite neither coming off as bad when actually hearing them. There is simply not enough to be found here that truly stands out. Even L-G Petrov's characteristic voice seems unusually bland. This coming from a man who helped define an entire genre with 'Left Hand Path'.
In this day and age where retro death metal groups are
a dime a dozen; inspiring and grabbing hold of the listener is the key
to standing out. Firespawn fails in both aspects. 'Shadow Realms' is
by all means not a bad album, but it accomplishes nothing that hasn't
been done already countless of times the last few years. Firespawn might
still prove me wrong eventually, but after 'Shadow Realms' the slope