Fear Connection – Progeny of a Social Disease Review

In the opening sentence of my first n00b review, I proudly declared my love for all things death metal. And while the album I was reviewing was less than stellar, I find when I wade through the stagnant promo sump, it’s still the DM that I reach for first. But what happens when one is unable to make that unholy choice themselves? Such was my position recently. I had two busted laptops, a malfunctioning cell phone, and a 4-year-old interested in neither. So I turned to a kindly, bench-pressing soul. The 4.0 yin to my 2.0 yang. The world famous Holdeneye came to my rescue, donning his AMG-branded snorkel to grab another slab of DM on my behalf. He returned a muck-encrusted mockery of a man, with Progeny of a Social Disease, the first full-length from Fear Connection, a German quintet with a penchant for Leatherface-inspired cover art, big riffs and a less-than evocative band name. Being a proud death metal maniac, did I come away from this experience celebrating Holdeneye’s promo prowess or cursing his name?

Fear Connection traffic in a very familiar, very comfortable style of death metal. You get what you pay for with these gents from Bremen, and that’s to their credit: guttural growls interspersed with higher-pitched snarls, crunchy riffs, neck-breaking grooves, and plenty of fretboard brutality, with a dash of thrash for good measure. Fear Connection haven’t reinvented the wheel on Progeny of a Social Disease. If you’ve ever taken a dive into the classic death metal deep end, you’ve definitely heard much of this before. And to these ears, that’s a welcome approach (with a few caveats, but let’s not steal the thunder from a future paragraph). While they’re certainly not treading new ground, Fear Connection concocted an engaging, competent, and enjoyable album. There are thrashtastic gang-chanted vocals, memorable, beefy riffs, and enough hooks to throw a pick at. And while the band doesn’t always hit the mark, you can look past a majority of those missteps.

If I had to describe Progeny of a Social Disease in a single phrase, it would be “head-bob inducing.” That’s not the most impressive swing for the syntax fences, but it’s pretty darn accurate. Right from the get-go I found myself absent-mindedly nodding in time with the deathened churn, grimacing in sadistic pleasure whenever the riffs grew particularly heinous. While most death metal intros are, by definition, pointless, this one segues nicely into “Fight the Plague,” probably my favorite song on the album, boasting hooks, speed, and brutality to spare. “The Ravishment” adds in a hefty dose of thrash with some crushing, mid-paced grooves. Meanwhile, the unexpectedly Maidenesque chug on “False Prophets” and the melodic, well-used tremolos on “Cerebral Attack” keep things interesting and engaging. All in all, a positive spin. So where are those missteps?

As I mentioned before, you’ve probably heard most of this in other iterations. While that’s not inherently negative (indeed, as a proud OSDM connoisseur, it can be downright positive) Fear Connection lean too heavily into that comfort zone at times, creating an album that is generally solid without leaving a lasting impression. Uneven tracks “Vengeance” and “War Inside My Head” don’t help, with issues ranging from general tedium to earnestly delivered but woefully cringeworthy lyrics. Indeed, the performances are satisfying, with razor sharp riffs, emotive growls, driving drums, prominent bass, and solid songwriting. And yet I found I wasn’t exactly jonesing for a replay once the last track ended. Progeny of a Social Disease isn’t forgettable, but it does lack impact.   

What to make of the latest from Fear Connection, then? Overall, I think I’ll continue celebrating Holdeneye in all his muscle-bound glory. Unlike many of the other releases I’ve reviewed, there aren’t the glaring, rage-inducing issues that would automatically drive the score down. The music is well performed, and both the brutality and variety make this a fun listen, even if the residual effects I’m craving aren’t there. At the end of the day, I’m left with an album that’s good for a solid headbanging session but not quite strong enough to make anyone’s year-end top 20. 

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: MDD Records
Websites: fearconnection.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/fearconnection2016
Releases Worldwide: October 1st, 2021

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