Sure, we’ve all heard of beating a dead horse, but have you heard of D-beating a dead horse? Retro Swedish death is that rotting carcass and Bombs of Hades return once again to kick and stomp it with more Entombed and Dismember based bootery. Atomic Temples picks up right where 2012s The Serpent’s Redemption left off and delivers another overdose of unrefined Swedish death mixed with rudimentary crust punk and half baked Motörhead outtakes, and much like the last platter, it’s a fairly fun listen if you’re in the proper frame of mind. That said, it isn’t as memorable as their last outing and falls short of an essential listen, especially considering there’s more retro death out there these days than in the ACTUAL heyday of Swedish death. Weird when you stop to think, isn’t it?
There are a few legitimate humdingers here that will shellac your noggin like riot baton. Opener “Fracture” is the best and most gobsmacking of the lot, delivering an unpretentious ass whooping of D-beaty goodness that sounds both nasty and rocking in equal measures. “And Your Flesh Still Burns” injects more swing into the proceedings and rocks away like Motörhead‘s evil doppelganger. “Cadaverborn” grinds along in a morbid mid-tempo with hammering riffs designed to plant you in the earth and “Omens” does much the same albeit at a vastly accelerated pace.
There are some duds here too, like the four minute plus extended interlude “Crawling Wind/The Tyrant’s Embryo” which goes nowhere slowly and keeps you waiting for something, anything to happen like a cruel session of aural blue balling. Also of waning interest is the thrashy “The Last Gateway,” which though heavy and chaotic, doesn’t do much to inspire the mind. The 11 minute title track has some cool moments and nice Celtic Frost inspired riffs, but c’mon, a caveman deathcrust band needs an 11 minute song like I need an in-house metalcore band serenading me at the asscrack of dawn. Unsurprisingly, it’s too drawn out and even the oddly tranquil middle segment that sounds like it was cut from an early Jethro Tull album doesn’t justify the excessive length.
For me the biggest selling point of Atomic Temples is the drumming of Magnus Forsberg. I like the swing and rock swagger he injects into what is essentially deathcrust music (this is especially the case on “And Your Flesh Still Burns”). Even as the riffs pummel away on songs like the title track, his drumming adds a jauntiness that feels refreshing. Speaking of hammering away, Jonas Stalhammer (ex-The Crown) and Wolfie Soderback do just that throughout the album, keeping things basic and heavy. You hear the requisite Entombed references and some helpful Celtic Frost influences and every now and then, a giblet of Autopsy vomits up. It works, but the riffs don’t really stick like they did last time out.
While the production is raucous, rowdy and unpolished, I wish the guitars sounded bigger and more intimidating. They opted to skip the typically buzzing retro guitar sound which is fine, but they don’t replace it with anything nearly as capable of tuning up the listener in proper soccer hooligan style. At a mere 39 minutes, the album flies by pretty quickly, but it doesn’t leave you feeling as pummeled as it should due to the guitar deficiency.
With a virtual sea of retro death acts to choose from, I can’t honestly recommend Atomic Temples all that strongly. It’s workmanlike and more than serviceable, but it won’t blow any doors off. That said, you can certainly do worse and I doubt anyone will be cheesed out by giving these blokes a flyer. Speaking of flying, never say “bomb” while in an airport. They don’t like that.