Without fail, I always seem to come back to my mass of Swedish death metal albums in a given calendar year. During that time, I pass from album to album, band after band of angry-at-the-world vocals, heavy-as-hell riffs, and the bludgeoning anti-Christian, death, and war themes. Much like the thrash movement in the States, there are arguments over the “Big Four” of the genre. Who is selected is mostly subjective and mainly based on chronological factors. Regardless, a handful of influential bands can be agreed upon and the rest fall in the second and third tiers of the genre hierarchy. However, year of formation does little to help Centinex claim “top dog” status. Having formed in 1990 – at the birth of the Swedish death movement – you’d expect their name to be associated with greats like Grave and Dismember. However, mediocrity and inconsistency have stripped them of the “Biggest Dick” trophy even though they’ve solidly incorporated and, to an extent, “mastered” the different elements of the genre for close to 20 years (for you math nerds, they have been on hiatus since 2006).
Centinex’s career did indeed begin with the sound of early Dismember and Grave on Subconscious Lobotomy, but evolved to the more melodic and death-thrash passages of Malleus Maleficarium and Reflections, and finally to Hypocrisy-meets-At the Gates moments of Decadence: Prophecies of Cosmic Chaos and World Declension. Following World Declension, these “giants” of Swedish death called it quits so songwriter/bassist Martin Schulman could form the much underrated Demonical. Taking many of the Centinex gang with him, Schulman brought back many of the classic elements of the genre, while still pushing the boundaries of death-thrash and melodic death. Being that Demonical has built and maintained a strong career so far, I was concerned that a return to Centinex would be a step backward for Schulman.
Redeeming the Filth takes more than one step backwards; it straight-up pivots and heads back to the Swedish death days of yore. Opener “When Bodies Are Deformed” bulldozes its way into your eardrums with old-school Centinex/Grave forcefulness that pushes forward to “Moist Purple Skin.” Ignoring the overuse of the song title as the chorus (which is the formula for every song on this album), the driving pace of this song is addicting and the melodic passage in the midsection makes the powerful riffs even more impactful. “Death Glance” continues the climb up this sinister mountain with some nasty death-thrash and earth-shattering death growls a la Alexander Högbum (October Tide). Limited to a compact 2:25 song length, this sets the bar for most crushing song on the album.
From here the album shifts to a mid-paced chugging for many of the remaining tracks. These doomy passages are reminiscent of Autopsy and Obituary as they crawl through two and a half songs before picking up the pace and ferocity with “Without Motives.” While these slower tracks introduce the black shrieks so common in Reborn Through Flames-era Centinex, they are mostly mediocre and kill the pace set by the opening trio of songs. “Without Motives” swings back around to beat the hell out of you, but the band doesn’t maintain the brutality and returns to more standard (and mostly unforgettable) Swedish death for succeeding tracks. Thankfully the album ends on a high note with the upbeat, death ‘n’ roll of “Eye Sockets Empty.”
This album is a classic “bookend” album; it starts strong and finishes strong, but in between sits a small collection of time sensitive material that just doesn’t compare to the genre’s earlier classics. With the recruitment of October Tide’s vocalist and Demonical’s vocalist (Sverker Widgren) taking guitar duties, there is the potential for a decent reboot. Unfortunately, Redeeming the Filth drops most of the mind-fucking elements of post-1996 Centinex in order to return to a style and sound better executed by many of their Swedish colleagues. Sadly, it was these progressive and melodic elements that made them memorable, and those are nowhere to be found.
These issues aside, the 30ish minute length keeps it from becoming boring and the production is good enough to make for an enjoyable listen. Unfortunately, Centinex has done nothing here to boost them to a higher tier, and while the return to old-school Swedish death sounds cool on paper, it just didn’t translate well in reality.