Chris Cleo investigates the new release from the Danish Death Thrashers.. here’s what he thinks: –
Returning with a second full-length effort are Denmark’s Shadowspawn, offering ten new tracks as the follow-up to 2017’s ‘Hope Lies Dormant’. While certainly not the biology of death-thrash as we may have known it circa ‘92, a healthy forty-one minute offering of Shadowspawn’s own pummelling yet murky signature variety of death-thrash is here to ooze from your speakers releasing in mid-April. Those who are familiar with the atmosphere of a Shadowspawn release will instantly be familiar with the simplistic yet chunky groove riffs and huge cavernous vocals and I am pleased to say that this is a definite step up in terms of quality.
The standout improvement is the attention and maturity shown in terms of songwriting. With the ever-standard chaotic riff salad of a death metal structural arrangement thrown in every now and then combined with the one less track when compared to the first full-length, it is extremely noticeable how much better ‘The Biology of Disbelief’ flows as an album. While the ‘Hope Lies Dormant’ was far easier to stomach in chunks, Shadowspawn’s sophomore album is a more coherent collection of songs, where the tracklist leans simpler songs against their more complex counterparts. With the majority of the songs having recognisable sections and simpler arrangements, and while this shouldn’t be mistaken for a Stock, Aitken and Waterman attempt to churn out top 40 hits, this maturity and attention to songwriting over balls-to-the-wall crazy approach could be what turns listeners who may not have fully grasped the debut back around.
Musically, however, this is hardly a depart from the style that Shadowspawn have cemented by their discography. As mentioned before, the majority of riffs are simple and revolve around chugging around the lowest open string with interjections of short phrases in between. The elements that really pop are the huge reverb-drenched vocals that help to create the hazy atmosphere that is unique to Shadowspawn’s own variety of death-thrash. Production focuses on the clarity of the drums, which although can come across quite clicky at times, this style is necessary to make sure nothing gets lost beneath the low-tuned guitars and booming bass tones. The icing on the proto-death-thrash cake are the samples that introduce six of the ten tracks. From the ominous creepy-ghost-girls to the pattering of rain to Paul Harvey’s ever-relevant ‘If I were the devil’ 1965 broadcast, the intro samples have always been one of my favourite parts of Shadowspawn albums, and they appear here in just the same fashion.
On a more critical note, ‘The Biology of Disbelief’ does fall a little short to it’s predecessor in terms of outright speed and aggression, choosing slower and heavier over maniacal frenzy. This leaves the opener ‘Under the Blood Red Moon’ as a definite standout as it’s the fastest track on the album and wastes little time before it pounds along into the rest of the album. Despite being less thrashy than ‘Hope Lies Dormant’, this album definitely scores higher based purely on its functionality as an album, and how easy it is to listen front to back. Overall another ten tracks that further solidify the foundation that Shadowspawn have built upon, showing maturity and providing a sense of direction for the ever-important make-or-break third album to spawn from.
Shadowspawn, The Biology of Disbelief is out on the 16th April via Emanzipation Productions