Mezzrow – Summon Thy Demons Review

Another rando and another band I should already know but don’t. Mezzrow has been around since the late ’80s, trying to bring America’s brand of thrash to the halls o’ Sweden. For various reasons—issues with their label and losing band member after band member—all that came out of their struggles was 1990’s Then Came the Killing. A ’91 demo later, and Mezzrow was no more. Fast forward sixteen years, and the band reforms for a live performance. Their small but passionate fanbase was excite. Would Mezzrow record a new album? Would the sounds of borrowed Exodus and Testament riffs reverberate across Scandinavia once more? Would Steel and his ape brood sprout wings? No. No such thing would occur. Fast forward again, some seventeen years, two founding members and three newbies regroup to give you Summon Thy Demons. But do these old thrashers have what it takes to resurrect something that has been dying off for six hundred years? I don’t know. Haven’t listened yet.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything unique if you seek out Then Came the Killing. Greatly inspired by the grand old days of Testament, the album trudges along predictably, with the occasional standout piece to bang on. So, when I snatched up Summon Thy Demons, I’d be lying if I said I felt anything close to enthusiasm to hear it. On the first spin, differences exist between this new record and one thirty-three years its junior—production (obviously), modern-day heaviness, and harder-hitting, gruffer-sounding songs. But the most significant difference between Mezzrow of old to Mezzrow of now is the guitar work of newcomers Magnus Söderman and Ronnie Björnström. Even if songs lack memorability here or there, the guitar work on Summon Thy Demons is at least worth the listen. Speeding through Children of Bodom-level intricacies, fighting off each other for dominance, the guitar work is far superior to the debut.

Unfortunately, each song is as predictable as the carnage that ensues when a three-year-old kid pours a glass of milk. Every piece contains dueling solos on the back end, and it’ll—one way or another—lead into a final, building iteration of the chorus. Some of the best soloing on the record is found in songs like “Through the Eyes of the Ancient Gods,” “De Mysteriis Inmortui,” and “Dark Spirit Rising.” The first track is as Testament-y as you can get, with gang shouts and aggressive riffs aplenty. The chorus is unremarkable, but the fist-pumping conclusion will surely be a pit favorite. “De Mysteriis Inmortui” is one of the better tracks on the album, delivering a charging riff, massive vocal support, and nifty solo work that sends the song into a tiffy. But “Dark Spirit Rising” is a garden of solos. Unfortunately, nothing else keeps me interested, but the whipping and whirling guitar play makes it worth the spin.

Other highlights on the record are “Beneath the Sea of Silence” and the title track. Both contain some headbangable triplet attacks and catchy choruses. “Beneath the Sea of Silence” combines Exodus and Testament riffage with a sinister Sodomized vocal approach. It might contain a cringey spoken-word segment on the back half, but still an enjoyable number. The title track is a crowd-pleaser—dueling guitars, punching vocals, and a sing-along chorus, I can picture the fists of the masses pumping in unison. But that’s about it. Each song has its moments but is often pulled off the track to justify a solo or a slick lead. “On Earth as in Hell,” for example, finds the album picking up steam as it heads into the B-side, but the inclusion of the odd yet impressive Arsis-like guitar leads creates a stumbling block in the flow. And the closer, “The End of Everything,” is the end of nothing. Easily the most-pointless track on the album, it ultimately is best left out in favor of “Dark Spirit Rising.”

In the end, Summon Thy Demons is mediocre compared to others in the genre. Play it in the background, and you’ll catch moments that will get you going. But then those fade away with repeated listens. Far surpassing its tight, thirty-four-minute debut, Mezzrow pulls out all the stops (minus self-editing) to deliver a bloated forty-nine-minute follow-up. I’m always rooting for bands returning to the fold, always looking to appreciate a remarkable come-back album. Unfortunately, Summon Thy Demons is the perfect “meh” album needing a fair amount of trimming and song exclusions.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 224 kb/s mp3
Label: Fireflash Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 21st, 2023

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