We’ve all rushed out to pick up the latest offering from our favorite act, only to later find ourselves steeping in a brew of decaffeinated disappointment. It’s always a sad day when a once great band fails to test their death mettle, losing that urgency and vitality that once made them so relevant. Some, however, divest themselves of all expectation and do whatever the fuck they want. Entombed, for example, progenitors of Swedish death metal, went on to create – for better or worse – death ‘n’ roll, and continued down a path of their own paving. Apparently eager to once again try his hand at a little heavy lifting, the legendary L-G Petrov gathered up contemporaries from such little known bands as Necrophobic, Unleashed, Defleshed and Dark Funeral to create the destructive Firespawn, doling out the kind of riffage that was theirs to perpetrate in the first place. Now set to release their second album, The Reprobate, the question is less what do these veterans have to offer, but more, is it still relevant?

I largely enjoyed debut Shadow Realms despite it having received mixed reviews. Typical Swedeath rhythms barreled over melodic black metal guitar lines and made for an uncomplicated, fun experience – one which I appreciated significantly more than anything currently drifting out of the Entombed A.D. camp. The Reprobate follows suit, but noticeably ups the game. By all accounts, this new platter boasts more inclusive writing credits, with input spanning the width and breadth of the band – consequently, the music enjoys increased resolve in its delivery and reinforced structure in its format. Wasting absolutely no time, opener “Serpents of the Ocean” careens through a medley of chromatic melodies and brisk riffing, and (speaking of increasingly irrelevant) is absolutely the best Amon Amarth song you’ve heard in years… Petrov adopts a more brutal tone than we are currently used to, his stentorian delivery compounds the material, and, along with Matte Modin’s perceptive blasting, fuels the song’s palpable energy.

“Blood Eagle” and “Full of Hate” are notably voracious souls, casting off the melody that swathes much of the album. The former in particular flusters through vortices of semi-technical guitar frenzies, recalling the halcyon days of the members’ respective alma mater. Similarly, “General’s Creed” menaces the record’s core with a kinetic flurry not dissimilar to Dutch legends Sinister, maintaining its break-neck velocity throughout its 4+ minutes. It’s only when The Reprobate dips into mid-pace that it begins to lose interest. “Death By Impalement” is fun but forgettable, with “The Whitechapel Murderer” suffering the same fate. Fortunately, The Reprobate‘s last gasps are its most vital. The title track borrows the fluctuations in cadence of Morbid Angel‘s Domination, instigating many a reeling tempo change and riven with gargantuan palm-mutes, before passing the baton to “Nightwalkers,” a perfect example of trampling Swedish death metal, effortlessly crafted for your consideration by the forefathers of the genre.

The result of guitarists Victor Brandt and Fredrik Folkare’s shared writing catalyses The Reprobate‘s outright conquest of the debut. Their serpentine soloing snakes through each song, trading tirades of melodic scales on the last two tracks in particular. It’s their electric presence that just about manages to distract from the fact that, as much fun as the material is, it’s also distinctly generic. You have most definitely heard these riffs before, even from the strings of these very same musicians. Stock themes abound, but are at least accentuated by the bulky modern production. Although, considering the infamy of those involved, I would have enjoyed a little more character in the sound – I particularly missed the presence of Alex Friberg’s bass, last seen wandering into the dark of the mix.

If you count yourself amongst those deplorables who investigate the numerical score before deciding to read the review, I insist you make an exception. Firespawn have delivered an album of enjoyable Swedish death metal that’s just as much fun as it might be generic. The irony of penalizing a group of musicians for utilizing a signature they toiled and travailed to originate isn’t lost on me – I’m pretty sure, in this instance, that self-derivation can still be defined as creativity, especially when compared to their legion of imitators. Be sure to check your elitism at the door and take The Reprobate at face value – it’s immediacy and relevancy is still worthy of your time.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media
Websites: facebook.com/firespawnofficial
Releases Worldwide: April 28th, 2017

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  • Nice, streamlined. Seems pretty strong on all fronts, with the exception of originality as mentioned in the review. Very nice sounding, though. Sometimes you just want a blast of the simple stuff. Nothing wrong with that.

  • Thatguy

    Nothing wrong with this at all.

    • h_f_m

      +1

    • Name’s Dalton

      Agreed. In fact, there are many, many, many, many, many things right with it.

    • Bearded_Relic

      Been looking forward to this as I enjoyed Shadow Realms quite a bit. If the review and the embedded track are anything to go by I think this will do me just fine!

    • Tofu muncher

      Nope.

    • herrschobel

      word !

  • h_f_m

    My favorite part of the video is refilling the coffee maker.

  • Guilty of often checking the numerical score first. :( I’m sorry!

    • Nag Dammit

      Me too. It’s cos I’ve got to listen to so much gosh darn metal thanks to this site.

  • Bortman Begins

    Death & potatoes are a essential part of a balanced diet.

    • John Mosley

      Just ask the Irish from 1845 – 1852…

      • Haha wow

      • Westpaceagle

        too soon

  • Wilhelm

    Not bad, but I wonder why the fuck the label wants us to see death metal legends making coffee. What is this anyways, Javacore?

    • Spam Bot

      I didn’t know I wanted it, but I sure did!

    • Nag Dammit

      Playing in a Starbucks near you. Unless that’s a fair trade, hand picked, transported by pedalo all the way from Kenya, house roasted in a Dutch oven (methane powered of course), ground between the owners own teeth, cold brewed, hand heated (like Mr miyagi) coffee, then it’ll only be available as a throat singing cover, played once by a Tibetan goat herd.

    • AgonMcDuck

      Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle

  • Jeremy Freeman

    I liked the Debut better, but this is still kick ass.

  • That was significantly better than I had expected (with a vague memory of the debut) and the review semi-slating the album for being yet another Swedeath clone. To be honest, I was getting more of a Sulphur Aeon vibe off the embedded track, especially during that beautifully melodic chorus plus lyrics about serpents and oceans? Come on guys! m/

    On a related note, where is the damn digital stream/download? I want to listen to the rest of the album, but failing that I don’t want another damn CD to add to the box.

    • Tofu muncher

      I got this baby on iTunes.

  • Roberto

    90% of the reviews I read here are 3.0 (or even worse, not numerical).
    Is taking a decisive stance not a thing anymore? Or everything I am interested in is considered bland by reviewers?

    • Aguy

      They like to save the extremes for special occasions.

    • Well, most music will be average to good (2.5-3.0). Only a small percentage of releases will be very good or great, etc. (3.5-4.5) or really bad (0.0-2.0). We don’t bash or praise albums to take a stand. If they are good, they are good.

      • Roberto

        How do you choose what you review? What you think might be good? High profile releases? Unknown obscure underground stuff no one knows about?

        • We keep a list of all promo we receive and do a combination of assigning reviews and letting writers pick what they want. We try to cover all the big stuff and still get to the lesser known, more underground stuff as best we can.

    • Ferrous Beuller

      I choose what I think will be good and/or interesting, sometimes it’s neither. I certainly didn’t consider this bland, hence the 3, which is a GOOD score. I just also didn’t feel it was worth raving about. I don’t think it’s a case of being indecisive, it’s just my opinion, which is all this review echos. If you enjoy it more than me, I’m glad you found something you like.