Dragged to the Altar
Ibex Moon Records
Before listening to this album, I have never heard of Feral‘s brand of music before. After learning that the band had started off as a joke band, I was slightly apprehensive, not knowing what to expect since the label could have meant that the band was never meant to be taken seriously. Furthermore, I have never been a huge fan of the “death ‘n’ roll” genre, with bands such as later Carcass and ZX Spectrum holding little appeal to me.
With a spoken quote off the 1992 Dracula film, Feral breaks into their brand of music, with death metal riffs greeting the listener, littered with pinch harmonics throughout, such as on the opening track Once Inside the Tomb, instantly bringing to mind Zakk Wylde’s style of playing in Black Label Society. But it seems that this is perhaps where the comparison with rock ‘n’ roll ends (and I certainly don’t mean this as a bad thing at all!). Songs such as Judas display a slow down in the band’s music, reminding listeners that there is no cause for hurry to produce good death metal songs. Songs such as Welcome to the Graveyard remind me of Bloodbath‘s Eaten, one of my personal favourite death metal bands and this is certainly a good thing.
Hook’s vocal styles are reminiscent of Vader‘s Peter Wiwczarek, gruff yet decipherable (and instantaneously hooks the listener!). The audible and heavy presence of the bass guitar also certainly adds to the enjoyment of the album, with bass solos added at the background at every opportunity, not surprising perhaps since the band was formed by vocalist Hook and bassist Valmer. While the Zakk Wylde-esque pinch harmonics included throughout certain songs add an interesting touch to the music, it gets a tad excessive at times, such as on the opening riff of Welcome to the Graveyard. Fortunately this does not carry on for every song, which is a guaranteed formula to turn off the music and a personal cue for choosing another band that plays straightforward death metal instead. Drummer Damien is not forgotten, for example on Judas, where he is given some personal air time to display his prowess on the short drum fill at the 2:17 mark. Of course, this is not to say that his presence is lacking on other parts of the album as he manages to contrast the slower parts of the album with his intense footwork. His influences are prominent, such as on Behead the Crucifix, where the drumming is reminiscent of fellow Swedish death metal band Bloodbath.
Now, what makes this album a particularly enjoyable listen is the production quality of the album. The guitar tone throughout the album isn’t particularly heavy, yet still manages to crush the listener with the huge tone, coupled with the chugging of guitarists Svarte and Markus. The tone on the guitar solos are also sufficiently warm, unlike the brittle and thin tones that guitarists nowadays prefer. Add to that the equal mix given to each of the instruments, ensuring that none of the instruments are buried out by another instrument on the final output.
While the above-mentioned death ‘n’ roll bands play a brand of music that is almost an equal portion of death metal and rock ‘n’ roll, Feral plays a style closer to old school death metal, punctuated by rock ‘n’ roll influences, and this personally certainly makes the album an enjoyable one overall. Recommended for fans of bands such as Edge of Sanity and Bloodbath.