Another year, another beginning of a string of releases in metal’s most resilient sub-genre; that’s right folks, it’s Swe-death time! Croatian upstarts Hereza are releasing their debut album Misanthrope, and they’re gunning to Dismember us with their Demonical HM-2-driven Carnage, and if you’re a fan of the genre, it shouldn’t take much Coercion to dive into the Bloodbath. With that Swe-death name-dropping bonanza out of my system, we can get down to brass tacks: how are the songs?
To answer that question, we must ask yet another: what would you say if you amputated your own arm with a chainsaw, and then attached said chainsaw where your recently severed arm used to be? If you said “groovy,” you’re absolutely correct and have great taste in cinema. Misanthrope frequently recalls the last two Demonical albums, and I’ve come to the conclusion that how much you enjoy what those guys did on Death Infernal and Darkness Unbound as well as Disfear’s oeuvre serve as a good litmus test of how much you’re going to enjoy Hereza’s deathly brew. Misanthrope mostly avoids being a complete copy of either band, as Hereza is generally more d-beat oriented than Demonical and more Swe-death oriented than Disfear, and in turn sound energetic, melodic, and reasonably brutal.
Being a new band, Hereza understandably suffers from lack of experience in the editing and sequencing departments. Album highlight “Mud” is a d-beat ripper that begins with a “Left Hand Path”- like shredding guitar solo, but the problem is it’s the third track out of a four song run of sub-three minute d-beat blasts, and it would’ve served the album well to space these tracks out a bit more to accentuate their impact and not blur the dividing lines between songs. After a nice bit of Dismember/Demonical worship in “Erase the Disgrace,” Hereza do almost the exact same thing as before with four more quick bursts of their d-beat madness, although there’s more of a subtle Motorhead influence this time around, especially on “Unholy Flames of Eternity” and “Pills.” It’s not entirely objectionable as Hereza writes good d-beat based material, but when ten of the fourteen songs here revolve around that punk-ish element of Swe-death, it’s just too much of a good thing. It’s frustrating, as each song has at least one standout riff or melody, but each time I reached the end of Misanthrope I felt like I’d done the musical equivalent of eating an entire pizza by myself against my better judgement: overstuffed and wishing some had been put in the fridge for next time.
The production job on Misanthrope sounds predictably like, well, pick almost any modern Swe-death band: chunky, HM-2 overdriven, and loud. The Demonical in all but name “Whole World Burn” sounds particularly gnarly due to this, but my enjoyment of it is stymied a bit due to it sounding like a Death Infernal bonus track. Per the norm, bass is all but drowned out by the massive guitar tone and drums sometimes sound a tad inauthentic, as the production clearly focuses on accentuating the vocals and riffs. It’s not awful as one hundred percent of the hooks come from these two elements, but both sound remarkably similar to the standard issue Entrails/Revel In Flesh/Demonical fare production-wise, and while I enjoy all of those bands, it doesn’t exactly make Hereza stand out from the pack.
Hereza is a promising young band who knows their way around some solid riffs, but it’s clear that this is their debut record, as it’s steeped in youthful energy and naiveté in both editing and songwriting. Some tightening of the screws would go a long way for the band, but as it stands Misanthrope is a solid if not unremarkable record that will scratch the Swe-death itch early in 2015.