Review Summary: Blackened death featuring former members of Dissection. What's not to like?
Soulreaper is a Swedish death metal band that was formed in 1997 by Johan and Tobias who had just left the melodic black metal band Dissection. Their style hits you like a shot of adrenaline straight into the vein. Given that Soulreaper was equipped with two former members of Dissection, a band that is now held in the highest regard of metalheads worldwide one would think that Soulreaper would gain more attention than it has. They certainly have the musical chops to get the attention of most fans of the genre. Soulreaper has qualities that should gain the attention of a wide variety of fans, they play blackened death metal with very speedy tendencies and incorporate some very impressive guitarwork that also manages to be just as catchy as it is crushing.
Norman and Hermansson are a great duo and handle their axes with great precision during the playtime of Written In Blood. The solos are plentiful and quite epic to say the least. While this isn't a technical death metal album some of the riffs are complex, but at other times the playing style is very straightforward and brutal. While the album is fairly crushing and relentless it still remains tasteful and never just fades together to become a wall of nonsensical noise. The track Seal of Degradation
is a great example of how catchy the duo is able to be while keeping the brutality at an acceptable level, and a slow moody solo accompanies the riffing perfectly to create an orgy of strings.
The vocals on the album are great. On the track Ungodly
vocal layering is used for just a moment and it hits the listener like a punch to the throat. The track previously mentioned also features sections with a more black metal vocal approach, this gives a little little more depth to Hjerten's range, which throughout the majority of the album isn't too large. Fortunately though his wail is evil and menacing enough to keep the listener very entertained throughout Written In Blood.
Speaking of evil, Soulreaper catches the listener with their sinister brand of metal from track one, and for the remainder of the album it never lets you go. Unfortunately the album Written In Blood only has seven tracks total, while some of the songs are fairly long when all is said and done it leaves you wanting much more. The dull moments department of the album is vacant, whether it be vicious rhythm of lightning fast speed picking something is always happening from start to finish. The musicianship also remains as tight as your underpants while listening to this record due to the boner you will be packing.
Bassist Mikael Lang definitely isn't one of the predominant players in the bands sound but when he creeps into the mix he manages to put a bit more of a punch into the overall sound. Overall the album already has an extremely full and almost thick sound. This makes this absence of audible bass less of a blow to the final product that is Written In Blood, but it is still a con that is evident when listening.
Kellgren, Soulreaper's drummer essentially goes ape*** on his kit a good portion of the album. His playing meshes perfectly with all the other member's styles. His playing doesn't consist entirely of blastbeats but a decent sized chunk of it does, and he pulls off the style well and he also does a great job at seamlessly making tempo changes without disrupting the musical assault that Soulreaper is giving out. On the opening track Darken the Sign
Kellgren goes no holds barred and lets the listener aware of what they are getting themselves in from the beginning.
So overall Written In Blood gets a firm four out of five. This underrated slab of blackened death is definitely not one to skip. Of course the album doesn't go without any flaws but those flaws are few and far between. If you are looking to beef up your metal album collection or are just simply interested due to the Dissection members present this album is highly recommended.