Skeletal Spectre [Sweden/USA]
After the past 2 years of introduction to the seemingly endless list of Rogga Johansson projects, I have started to grow somewhat numb to Swedish death metal – not to dismiss the quality of his output, of course. But as always, there are bands that tend to stand out and surprise me, and Skeletal Spectre, with their third full length effort Voodoo Dawn certainly has the potential to do so, first catching my eye with the rather unique lineup hailing from Sweden and USA.
That typical abrasive Swedish death metal tone hits the listener in the guts straightaway with the title track grinding its way through, leaving no survivors in its wake, as Skeletal Spectre ensures that every riff, every note hits the listener with the full impact. The music on Voodoo Dawn is mostly heavy and crushing as fuck, not only with that classic Swedish death metal tone that bands like Entombed and Dismember have popularised and the heavy hits on the skins by drummer 2008, but also in the mid-pace that the band tends to utilise, resulting in a more effective and hard-hitting record compared to compatriots who prefer the faster and somewhat groovier death ‘n’ roll style.
Of course, the usual old school Swedish death metal techniques are present and well-utilised as well, such as the usage of haunting lead guitars of Behold the Pentagram, creating and maintaining that sense of unease and omen throughout the record. The heavy doom overtones that often rear their head also definitely helps in reinforcing that gloomy and ugly mood, with a few moments that are rather reminiscent of the earlier material of Paradise Lost or My Dying Bride.
But one thing that caught me off guard were the vocals of Vanessa. Female vocalists are a dime a dozen these days, but what’s up with vocals of such calibre?! Unlike the low guttural growls that are preferred by her male counterparts, Vanessa’s vocals register a higher pitch, and at times even manages to give Skeletal Spectre a somewhat blackened touch, making the material on Voodoo Dawn all the more sinister.
If one were craving for some good, classic old school Swedish death metal, Skeletal Spectre‘s Voodoo Dawn certainly hits the spot, giving this classic genre a nice, heavier and somewhat doom-ier touch.