Apart from boasting the wimpiest band name this side of Raunchy, Germany’s Dew-Scented have built a substantial body of work since releasing their debut album Immortale back in 1996. Drawing influence from classic German thrash bloodlines and manipulating them into their own deathlier take on modern thrash, the band has plugged away through an almost comical amount of line-up changes to arrive at their tenth full-length album, Intermination. My own experiences with Dew-Scented’s extensive catalog are sporadic to say the least, but the brutal back-to-back stab wounds of 2002’s Inwards and 2003’s Impact were particularly solid and noteworthy examples of the band’s sharply honed thrash chops. In many ways, Dew-Scented are the German equivalent of Sweden’s underrated Carnal Forge, with both bands taking a darker and more brutal thrash approach in contrast to the scores of post-millennium rethrashers, crafting a prolific output of solid yet slightly predictable and one-dimensional albums. Dew-Scented’s endurance and perseverance to reach this stage of their career is an admirable achievement in itself, particularly when unfashionable raw-throated vocalist Leif Jensen remains the sole original member, so credit where it’s due. But does this tenth “I” titled album maintain the band’s relevance in the competitive realms of modern metal?
Dew-Scented’s instrumental abilities can never be doubted, regardless of who is manning the weaponry. The music rips and burns at a cracking pace, with guitarist’s Marvin Vriesde and Rory Hansen delivering a constant flurry of fast, gritty thrash riffs and harmonies punctuated by surprisingly deft and tasteful soloing. The pair play with slickness and confidence, aided by the aggressive and varied drumming style of Koen Herfst. Meanwhile, Jensen’s vocals are rife with conviction and seething hatred, but severely lacking in variables, breeding a touch of monotony into the album. However the real issue with Intermination stems from the overall blandness of the song-writing. Strong individual performances will only take a band so far if the song-writing fails to deliver interesting or memorable moments. Most of the songs blur by without leaving much of a lasting impression, marred by serious deficiencies in the riff department. It’s almost as if the soul has been sucked out of the riffs, with many coming across as mechanized sterile shells of actual flesh and blood thrash riffs [Henceforth to be known as “Borg riffs.” – Steel Druhm].
Misleadingly titled opener “Declaration of Intent” fails to muster any sort of atmosphere or tension before the shitstorm that ensues. From here on, Dew-Scented keep their foot on the gas with fast and brutal thrash workouts like “On a Collision Course” and “Affect Gravity” being the order of the day. The majority of the songs fall between the three and four minute mark, which ordinarily wouldn’t pose a problem, however, many tend to bleed together or are largely bereft of the dynamics or creative ideas to raise much excitement. “Means to an End” is a rare exception to the rule, raising the stakes through some At the Gates-inspired melodeath ferocity and strong riffing. Drummer Herfst destroys the skins with a flurry of blasts, fills and blinding thrash rhythms to enliven the savage “Power Surge,” while the varied tempo shifts and tough groove of “Living Lies” are enjoyable enough, but they’re not able to swing the balance away from the pedestrian song-writing that dominates the album.
Sound-wise, Intermination was mixed by Dan Swanö at Unisound Studio and is reasonably dynamic and not overly polished. Intermination’s gritty vibe is complimented by a particularly nasty guitar tone, while the drums sound reasonably punchy despite the cymbals sounding oddly distracting and dull. Overall it’s a fitting sound for the dark, aggression-fueled thrash Dew-Scented have long specialized in.
Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, as there’s nothing downright awful here and the band rip through each tune with skill and energy. However Dew-Scented’s riff well is running dry and there’s not enough compelling material on Intermination to justify repeat listens or inspire much enthusiasm. Diehard fans might find something to enjoy here, the rest of us would be wise to move on to something with greater substance.