Feral Where Dead Dreams Dwell 01bThe festering stench of classic Swedish death metal is surely one of the most comforting and addictive scents in the metalverse. Try as I might to disregard the bulk of subpar bands pedaling the oversaturated style where bands are so often prone to lazily ripping off their idols with blatant plagiarism, when the words ‘old school Swedish death metal’ are thrown about I generally sit up and take notice. Unfortunately finding truly killer examples of the style worthy of standing in the shadows of Dismember, Entombed or Grave (amongst others) are few and far between. For a few years the style was slightly rejuvenated with a spike in quality retro acts, but unfortunately the old school Swedish death revivalist scene has largely returned to leaning too heavily on the side of derivation. Apparently alive and kicking out rotten old school jams since around 2007, Sweden’s Feral have released a bunch of demos, a split EP and a debut full-length prior to releasing this second platter of old school brutality, entitled Where Dead Dreams Dwell. So are Feral here to deliver a fresh take on a beloved formula?

Where Dead Dreams Dwell ticks all the boxes in the Swedeath stakes. Rusty buzzsaw guitar tone. Check. Frenzied D-beat rhythms. Check. Beastly low growls. Check. Basically all the song-writing ingredients fans have come to expect, complete with obvious influences and reference points to the classic past. And frankly it rocks pretty damn hard, taking a gnarlier and less polished approach than some of their modern peers in both production and overall execution. The plus side of bands like Feral is the sheer passion they obviously share for the style, even if they skirt dangerously close to tribute act status. And Feral certainly bring feverish energy to their bludgeoning musical chops, hacking relentlessly through the album’s ten cuts in a reasonable 43-minute run time.

Straight off the bat opener “Swallowed By Darkness” rips out an infectious opening riff that quickly settles into a thrashy, blood pumping groove. It’s a surprisingly dynamic song with a couple of standout riffs, strains of sinister melody and vaguely bluesy groove. Once the template has been established, Feral don’t deviate far from the left hand path. Despite a certain predictability present throughout the album, Feral’s raw energy and a solid supply of catchy riffs from capable guitarist Markus Lindahl goes some way towards nullifying the material’s more derivative traits. The likes of “Suffering Torment” and “The Crawler” are rollicking, catchy jams, while the hyperactive energy and hard-edged grooves of “Mass Resurrection” and speedy unchained aggression of closer “Succumb to Terror” are other noteworthy morsels.

Feral Where Dead Dreams Dwell 02

Production-wise there are no real surprises, although the band pleasingly opts for a refreshingly raw and less varnished modern take on the vintage Sunlight Studios sound. While typically brickwalled, the sound is otherwise satisfyingly crunchy with an absolutely killer guitar tone. The song-writing doesn’t step out of the shadows of the past, unless aping other modern updates like Bloodbath and Entrails, but there’s enough substance and quality riffs to keep the album afloat, even if many of the songs tend to bleed together.

My tolerance for Swedish death metal of the old school variety has admittedly lessened in the wake of last year’s superb Horrendous album, which showed innovation could be applied to an endearingly retro sound. Instead the scene’s constant retreading and complete lack of progression is making it increasingly difficult to siphon out bands worth listening to. Nevertheless, Where Dead Dreams Dwell is a solid listen and Feral’s rawer edge and hooky riffs should garner some interest and enjoyment for avid fans of the style disappointed in the latest Entrails release.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 Kbps mp3
Label: Cyclone Empire
Websites: FeralOfficial| Facebook.com/Feral
Release Date: Out Worldwide: 05.29.2015

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  • Francesco Bordoni

    I really liked Feral’s first effort, and I was totally gonna miss this one somehow, so thanks for this – spot-on indeed – review. You really hit some point there! Horrendous did manage to change the game both with their first and second record, raising the stakes about what we could expect of this genre. And yet I always find such pleasure in listening to these guys’, or Revel In Flesh’s, or Graveyard’s brand new take on those old ass gory riff structures, that almost every time a 3.0 ODM record ends up turning into a 4.0 – a 4.5 even – in my books.

    All in all I think there are still gems breeding quality death in the dark, just under any spotlight, and it’s hard not to fall in love with all these bands and their morbid fascination for splits and the such (Revel In Flesh’s “Bonecrusher” off a Split w/Revolting has be one of my favourite death metal tracks ever). Also graveyards, crawling zombies, bloody altars and demonic feasts are not getting any less cooler soon.

    Ahem. My point: blessed be Horrendous for what they do, I’m utterly against conservatism both in society and in music, but that said no argument whatsoever’s gonna prevent me from enjoying the shit out of a promising raw platter of rocking death like this one. ZIP. NOTHING. DON’T EVEN TRY IT

    • Francesco Bordoni

      Also: I listened to Obliteration. Managed to listen to it twice. A couple of songs are decent – the rest EUGHEUGHEUGH

    • Luke_22

      Well said and thanks for the kind words. I’m still a sucker for the style but I’m a bit more picky in recent times. This is pretty solid stuff, hardly game changing but a fun listen. And Revel in Flesh are indeed a killer band.

  • Jeremy González

    I recommend you check out the new album from Chapel of Disease. It’s comparable to Horrendous in terms of innovation and being non-derivative. Probably the best death metal album this year, I think you will dig it.

    • Refined-Iron Cranium

      Oh man, that stuff is real good. Right up there with Gateway to the Antisphere for best death metal albums this year.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Album rules, some of it gave me an “On the Wings of Inferno” vibe as well. Sounds like they up and put some rock n’ roll into the mix too, although not in an obnoxious way.

  • Luke_22

    Thanks for the tip, I’ll be sure to check them out.

  • Martin Knap

    Artwork by Costin Chioreanu.

    Dismember’s last album is pretty much worth buying in my opinion.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Great review. I’m picky as hell these days with the genre but I will give this a listen because I am a sucker for this shit.

  • sir_c

    Solid.

    There, you said it right.

  • Tom Hardy

    Nice review. Checked out the track and I have to say, it sucks. I wouldn’t put this on to impress myself or suggest anyone check it out. Every C-grade wannabe sound-alike band out there needs a reality check. How often would you go “Hey, I really want to listen to this” over a classic Dismember or Grave album? Although a millionaire, I’m on a tight budget when it comes to music and this doesn’t cut it. Nowhere close.

    • Luke_22

      Thanks Tom. Shame you couldn’t get on board, It’s certainly not essential but there’s some good stuff on the album. But if you don’t like the lead-off track the album probably isn’t for you.

  • Feeblejocks

    Okay, personal pet peeve. What’s with all the metal bands releasing lyric videos as promotion for their albums? I mean, seriously? There are of course genres where a lyric video makes sense, but for a Swe-Death album??? No! I mean seriously, who wants to watch the words to a death metal song? Why would anyone think this was a good idea?

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Yep my pet hate too

      • Luke_22

        Yeah I know what you mean, its become quite the unnecessary trend and it highlights just how poor some lyrics in metal really are.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          I also don’t buy the argument that lyrics aren’t important in metal…If you’re going to use words you should attempt to make them compelling, otherwise you’re being lazy