Death Maze – Prodigy of Death
Rating: 3.5/5.0 – Very good
Few unsigned bands in Sweden have been getting the kind of press that UmeÃ¥’s Death Maze has gotten in the last 6 months or so. There are probably a few reasons for this, firstly, there are a lot of unsigned metal bands in Sweden–but secondly, most of those unsigned bands don’t have three teenaged (16/17 year-old) chicks and a 14 year old drummer in the band. There is an obvious story here for several reasons–but mainly ’cause they play groovy, old-school death metal. Partially due to this, then, they’ve had the chance to do some cool gigs, including playing at House of Metal, which is UmeÃ¥’s big yearly metal festival where they shared the stage with the likes of The Haunted, Amon Amarth and Opeth. Yeah, they’re doing OK for themselves. But, I thought I’d see what the hype was about and I requested their demo.
As a disclaimer, however, I’m not going to judge this band based on their age. This review will not be “well, they’re pretty good for their age,” and sort of write them off as young, but pretty OK or something. I’m going to hold this band, particularly given the venues they’re playing and so forth, up to the standard they should be held up to that of amateur and semi-pro bands. To which, I must say, they hold up pretty damn well.
From the opening bass groove and old school Cannibal Corpse sounding intro, Prodigy of Death is a pretty convincing piece of work. The style isn’t seriously progressive or new, but it is excellently executed mid-paced death metal with addictive grooves and not a lot of technicality. The groove parts are intersperced with melodic riffing which definitely imply a Hypocrisy or At The Gates influence, despite the band sounding more like Baphomet or Impetigo than mid-90s Swedish melodic death.
The musicianship isn’t stellar, really, but it doesn’t need to be because every track on this demo has damn catchy riffs that get you nodding your head, and I’ll bet they get a great live response to these kinds of tracks. The songs are short and sweet and totally lacking a lot of the pretention that one finds in a lot of modern death metal, which is trying way too hard to be technical and br00tal and not hard enough to just write good songs. Frankly, Death Maze, is super refreshing in that sense. They’re tight, brutal and fun to listen to.
There are a few things that could probably be worked on here, however. The segues, for example, are weak. A lot of the transitions are good ideas, but could’ve been executed better,. There are a few parts in the tracks like the bass breakdown in “Dismemberment” which drag the tracks down instead of bringing them up. When a band is this reliant on groove and heaviness, they kind of can’t afford the sort of stuff that breaks the drive and movement of the track.
Aside from those minor gripes this demo kicks pretty major ass. I’ve listened to it dozens of times and now I’ve got these riffs stuck in my head when I’m wandering around trying to do other things, which is a pretty good sign. I expect Death Maze to go pretty far if they can tighten up, work a bit on their composition and keep on playing big shows. Based on their age, I’d say they’re only going to get better (particularly their drummer, who’s pretty killer at 14–I’m trying to imagine how good he’s going to be at 18), and that’s promising. There might be one more band to add to the little UmeÃ¥ Hall of Metal Fame eventually. And fuck, best of luck to ’em.