Henry Kane - Den Förstörda Människans RikeThere are a handful of obscure record labels that I’ve learned to pay attention to when their output finds its way into our promo bay; the aptly named Transcending Obscurity is one of them. In recent months they’ve distributed some seriously weird novelty projects that, though not always great, typically provide something fresh that stands out in the crowded sphere of extreme metal. Thus, when I saw they had delivered us a Swedish death metal album, I was immediately intrigued. Swedeath is one of the least touched sub-subgenres of metal in terms of innovation, and as such, the prospect of a new spin on the battle-weary formula is undeniably enticing. With Jonny Pettersson (who’s been in something like ten death metal bands) bearing responsibility for all performances on this solo project, could Henry Kane live up to my expectations of blazing a left-hand path, or will it have me coming down with a case of wolverine blues?

My first reaction to Den Förstörda Människans Rike1 was less than positive. Swedeath is a genre known for its pervasively murky tones, sure, but the cranked wall of guitar sound here is nearly impenetrable on first exposure, sounding akin to an underwater battle between a chainsaw and an Ibanez. Thankfully my mood brightened considerably after further listens; I quickly came to acknowledge that the guitar tone gives Henry Kane an instantly recognizable sound that’s unlike anything else, and that underneath the wall of guitar sound there are some truly interesting elements at work. In addition to being a solid death metal record in its own right, there’s a healthy dose of straight-up crust punk present, and most tracks incorporate breakneck blasts of grindcore to jolt you awake in case the bludgeoning d-beats weren’t stimulating enough. Throw in some moody, memorable lead guitar melodies to lend the rhythm section some much needed context, and the result feels like a rawer, crustier take on Pettersson’s Ashcloud project.

Though Henry Kane churns out quality material, engaging DFMR on a granular scale is a trying task; not just because the guitar sound is ungodly loud, but because the distortion is so heavy as to occasionally obscure exactly what notes are being played. When gang vocals and blastbeats rev up simultaneously, the rhythm guitar’s tone can easily become lost in the mix, resulting in a monolithic backdrop of droning ambience. HK is so frequently exhilarating that I find it hard to care about this once it sucks me in, but after a few tracks the deafening noise leads to some serious ear fatigue, and the beyond crushed master certainly doesn’t help matters. It feels appropriate, then, to deliver a warning: play this album loud, but take a break after the first eight tracks (which is roughly the halfway point). This is one of the loudest albums I’ve ever encountered, and even though it only runs for about thirty minutes, listening to it front to back in one sitting is a mind-numbing, eardrum-destroying experience.

Henry Kane 2017

While the album is undoubtedly earsplitting, it at least provides the listener with frequent breaks through concise songwriting. Henry Kane utilizes the grindcore approach to record construction through brisk, brutal skirmishes; get in, smash faces, get out. This songwriting approach is extremely beneficial to HK, lending it a punk attitude and a sense of determination that’s as biting as it is efficient. You can practically sense Pettersson snarling through the speakers, and this is in no small part to his diverse, manic vocal delivery. There are also a pair of four-to-five minute tracks (the title cut and “Det Var Inte Ditt Fel”) which allow more breathing room for Pettersson to compile all of his ideas. These are the record’s best cuts by far, as they dial back the bombast a touch to allow the atmosphere to soak in without sacrificing any aggression.

Henry Kane sounds like what would have happened if Entombed had gone the polar opposite direction from Wolverine Blues after releasing Clandestine. It doubles down on the Swedeath genre’s extra grimy aesthetic with a level of distortion that’s challenging yet one-of-a-kind. The genuinely interesting melodies and crusty aesthetic add unexpected substance to what is otherwise a purely bludgeoning record. And despite the loudness, Den Förstörda Människans Rike‘s sound is so unique and recognizable after only a few minutes of exposure that it’s bound to receive some sort of cult following. Good work, Jonny – but maybe ease up on the gain next time around.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity
Websites: henrykanecrust.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/henrykanegrind
Releases Worldwide: February 20th, 2017

Show 1 footnote

  1. Translation: RIP Headphone Users
  • Interesting review. But as soon as hit the embedded song, the guitar tone instantly took me to Gregor Mackintosh’s Vallenfyre (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qkb62SrzZbE) Not so sure about “the guitar tone gives Henry Kane an instantly recognizable sound that’s unlike anything else” :/

    • Eldritch Elitist

      Good comparison, but I’m not sure the distortion there is match-for-match with Henry Kane. HK’s tone has a modulation effect applied to it that makes it sound even more distorted. The sound is so loud that it takes a minute before you even realize it’s there.

      • True it’s not like for like. Still I was expecting something even further left field. That said the guitar tone *and* the vocal style combined do make for a signature sound.

        • Eldritch Elitist

          Yeah, there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on here, and I’m glad people are recognizing that beyond the guitar sound.

    • contenderizer

      Yes. Vallenfyre are better than most things.

  • This is pretty awesome. Took a few tracks to adjust. The musical equivalent to stepping into a sauna.

    • Excentric_13073

      I can’t adjust to that DR4, though…

      • Zac Melvin-McNutt

        Oh boo whoo

        • Excentric_13073

          IDK, can’t make out the vocals, and the drums might be somewhere within that murkiness. Bad sounding albums are just that. Bad.

      • But I can, really can, it works for me.

  • drug_genosh

    sounds like a “rebel wizard” take on swededeath?

    • contenderizer

      Deliberately lo-fi w/ a clear punk sensibility, yeah. But Rebel Wizard’s approach lets the melodies & hooks shine through, while Henry Hyde seem to be doing their (his) level best to bury them. Kind of a shame, cuz from what I tell, they’re pretty great.

  • Treble Yell

    That intro better not be you dissin’ Wolverine Blues or else we gonna fight.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      Nah, I really like Wolverine Blues. It’s just fun to treat it as the redheaded stepchild of the Swedeath canon.

      • Treble Yell

        Wouldn’t that honor go to Same Difference? Although I quite like that album, too.

        • Eldritch Elitist

          Probably, but it wouldn’t have served as well as a pun.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    The embedded track at times sounds like an Entombed demo and Ulver “Nattens Madrigal” being played at once over TV static.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      You’re not wrong. That being said, I think you’ve name dropped Nattens Madrigal on at least three of my reviews in the last month!

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Three times? You made me check, I think it’s only been twice, here and on the Lorn review. What can I say? I hear trebly Black Metal melodies and the first thing that comes to my mind is Ulver’s Nattens Madrigal”

        • Eldritch Elitist

          Fair enough, and it’s a good comparison regardless. Such a pioneering sound.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            And one of the many amazing things about it is that despite all the treble you can always hear the bass guitar.

  • Eli Valcik

    reminds me of Sulphur Aeon…. For some reason.

  • Name’s Dalton