Deserted Fear – Dead Shores Rising
Century Media, 2017
Living after the age of vitality of a genre, one becomes accustomed to the process of decay that happens as knowledge of why things are done becomes lost, and people instead fill in with the usual stuff that they do anyway. Humans are experts at dressing up the mundane as the exceptional.
Deserted Fear promises to “combine the sound of Swedish Death Metal with US Old School Death Metal,” but after analysis, Dead Shores Rising has more in common with Pantera and the melodic metalcore of the past twenty years than anything old school from either shore. They achieve these sounds in production and aesthetics only: thick bassy Swedish distortion, loud detuned drums, and Entombed-style vocals.
Under the hood, a melodic hook drives every song and it adopts the standoffish, rap-like open rhythms that NYHC favored and introduced to metal through Pantera and Exhorder. That means that much of the music is structured around vocals instead of guitars, which makes the music more predictable since we are basically listening to a voice and then supporting sounds from the instruments.
No doubt these guys do their homework: you can hear a lot of older Swedish death metal, especially the melodic vein, in the types of riffs they use and how they structure their songs, just as song patterns from heavy metal, speed metal, metalcore, hardcore, and even radio rock work themselves in here. There are even some breaks in the verse chorus and expansion upon riff ideas to create lengthy transitions, but these ultimately lead nowhere because songs are written as cycles to support the rhythm of the vocals.
Of course, every old school fan wants to love this album. The band nail the aesthetics 100% from the arty woodcut-style necro cover to the production which sounds flawlessly like an Edge of Sanity or At the Gates album, and they have clearly put a lot of work into making a smooth hybrid of the last thirty years of metal. Unfortunately, the underlying music does not deliver the power of death metal, which comes from the interaction in riffs taking the listener on a realization toward an unconventional realization or at least uncovering the structure beneath the appearance on which most people rely.
In addition, the melodies used here belong to the somewhat insipid combination of bittersweet sentimentalism and returning to highly consonant themes like a mother consoling her infant with a simple song that sounds like all is well in the world. Despite being extremely well-executed, this album does nothing more than amplify emptiness.