Ursinne - Swim With The Leviathan 01Like the darkest of chocolate smothering the creamiest of peanut butter, pairing two of death metal’s enduring icons for a dream supergroup should be a match made in heaven. With a combined resumé that reads as venerable Who’s Who of classic death metal, the musicianship of Jonny Petterson (WombbathPale KingHenry Kane, a slew of other bands) blended with the throat of Dave Ingram (Down Among The Dead Men, ex-Bolt Thrower, ex-Benediction, a slew of other bands) sounds like a perfect formula on screen and paper. Stockholm-steeped riffing topped by one of England’s most recognizable death metal vocalists? Sign me the fuck up! So when word came out about the arrival of their debut, Swim With The Leviathan, I frothed at the mouth, expecting to be leveled by such a hefty, promising debut by two death metal legends.

And instead, I’m left confused and a bit frustrated. Mind you, the album starts off strongly. Opener “Devil May Care” starts off with a thick, chewy mid-paced Petterson HM-2 riff and Ingram’s unmistakable bellows over a mid-tempo drive. Not mindblowing or original, but it blends both Petterson’s and Ingram’s pasts into a cohesive whole that works quite well. So far so good. Third track (and album highlight) “Bullet Bitten” pays homage to Lemmy Kilmister, complete with a couple of samples of the late Motörhead frontman during some monstrous riffs and a thick groove. In fact, the first four songs display just how much of a Leviathan Ursinne can be if they focused their energies on leveling the fuck out of everyone within earshot. Leviathan‘s original material ranges from okay (“Something Wicked This Way Comes”) to pretty good (“Talons” and “Bullet Bitten”) when all cannons are firing at the same target.

But things take a sharper nosedive than what the Ultimate Warrior hoped Hulk Hogan would take in an airplane prior to Wrestlemania 6 immediately afterward. For reasons I can’t fathom, Ursinne saw fit to cover “Crazy Horses” by The Osmonds, a song I never want to hear in any form, as Leviathan‘s fifth track, and HOOOOO-BOY, is it bad. To put it into perspective, this is the musical equivalent of a bad in-joke between friends that absolutely nobody else can understand. I get wanting to let your hair down and be goofy (hello, Vampillia!), but when you start off an album with seriously competent death metal, you’d want to continue that theme, especially on your debut. It matters not the legendary status of the people concocting this album (though it wouldn’t honestly hurt). I’m sure you’re thinking that one single cover couldn’t ruin this album, and you’d be right…

Ursinne - Swim With The Leviathan 02
…because there are FOUR covers on here, scattered within the tracklisting of the band’s original material. On a twelve-song album. That’s exactly one-third of Leviathan, and none of them are necessary or helpful to the album as a whole. The only one that kinda works, “Turning Japanese” by The Vapors, is only interesting in that “okay, that just happened” sense, and worse yet, it’s sandwiched between two of Ursinne‘s stronger originals (“Underworld” and “Hollow Hearse”), weakening their imprint. The less said about their covers of Queens of the Stone Age‘s “Monsters in the Parasol” (with Kam Lee!) and Siouxsie and the Banshees‘ “Spellbound,” the better. Had they left these covers off (or at least kept all of them at the end of the album proper so the rest of the album could shine), Leviathan would have left a better taste in my mouth. As it is, the back-and-forth bounce between “decent-quality death metal project” and “goofy death metal cover band” is jarring enough to pull me out of the game almost entirely. Besides, we already have Six Feet Under. We don’t need another.

And that kills me because I have nothing but the utmost of respect for both Petterson and Ingram, and what they’ve brought to metal over the years. If they can focus on their strengths, as well as work on the production side of things a bit so the melodic guitar can not sound so muffled compared to the non-stop Sunlight-inspired onslaught, Ursinne could become a monster. But you are best to let Leviathan sleep with the fishes. I would much rather have a solid and competent eight-song album that leaves me wanting more over a 45-minute album with promising songs diminished by bad covers and an iffy tracklist. Disappointing.


Rating: 2.01/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: ursinne.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/UrsinneBand
Releases Worldwide: August 20th, 2017

Show 1 footnote

  1. An average of 3.0 for their original material, and 1.0 for the covers.

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  • Eli Valcik

    Finally! Judgment of album art!

    • Grymm

      It’s… fishy.

      • Eli Valcik

        Haha. At first glance it looked like a really shitty horse.

        • Nate Sweet

          The front of it kind of resembles a rodent. And is that…a tongue??

          • Mollusc

            I think it’s a hairy angler fish, but can’t see its lure.

          • Mollusc

            Hairy angler fish face, lure removed, spliced on to
            something else.

          • Nate Sweet

            Out of all places it is here, at AMG, that I realize I need a new prescription. I knew this site was special

      • Deep-sea fishes are metal as f**k. Stuff for the nightmares.

        • Grymm

          You are not kidding.

          There was an eel that looked like it had three rows of human teeth. That is messed up.

  • sir_c

    A Bolt Thrower namedrop always gets my attention. Nice review, pity the cover tracks spoil the food. The embedded track sounds pretty decent (though quite unoriginal, but hey, these guys were there at the beginning).

    I’ll listen to some tracks before I make my own judgement, just out of respect for these fellas.

    • Eli Valcik

      If youre looking for some more Bolt Thrower esq shit, check out Trenchgrinder’s 2015 demo. I recently re-discovered it and it has been taking up my headphone time.

      • sir_c

        Thanks will listen this.
        The closest I have found so far is Just Before Dawn with their album The Dead And Those About To Die.

        • Eli Valcik

          Will do

    • Master of Muppets

      I’ma start referring to them in every review. Off to the poor-house with ye!

      • sir_c

        If it doesn’t sound like proper Bolt Thrower, there won’t be a poor-house.
        But let’s see which of your next metalcore reviews have anything that sounds close.

        • Master of Muppets

          You’ve got some waiting to do, no thrown bolts on the immediate horizon here.

  • Lou Daz

    Good review, but I gotta disagree completely with this score. I wasn’t expecting to like this project, but I think it rips. To each our own.

  • PotaD0s

    Great review, but i disagree with the score. Should be 2.00001/5.
    I’m sure you’ll try harder next time.

    • Grymm

      My journalistic integrity is now invalid.

      I now have a sad.

  • Mollusc

    There’s a message here…

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Given the opening sentence, I was going to make a joke about how “your Petterson is in my Ingram!!”, but it’s too suggestive.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Man, why did they stop at “Crazy Horses”? Why not “A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock ‘N Roll”?

    Also, first instance of a footnote on a rating?

    • Grymm

      Nah, Anaal Nathrakh’s The Whole of the Law had one in the review too, as did Queensryche’s Condition Hüman (which I believe was the first one to do it).

  • Flyingguillotine

    I dug the embedded song.

    • Grymm

      The embedded song is great!

      The rest of it, not so much.

  • h_f_m

    Yeah, this is garbage.

  • lennymccall

    Whoa there, you must never have heard Crazy Horses covered by KMFDM? Because it fully rules and it’s one of my favorite late night jams with a 40oz in hand. Kinda wanna hear this version now…