Before diving in, it needs to be established that Reborn stands as more than just a title. In fact, it’s more a description than anything due to the band going back and redoing some of their earliest material. Founding member and guitarist Ola Englund states the band felt the first two albums were “not up to par” with the releases that followed, calling this the “best of Refeared and Rejects totally re-recorded and revamped for the 10th anniversary,” adding that “the songs have much more to offer with real drums, better production, new mix, new master, etc.” So, if you’re hesitant considering this is composed of previously released material, it’s understandable. I even typically denounce these sort of releases as not really being necessary in most scenarios. But, considering this is an anniversary recording composed of material that just didn’t reach the initial desire, I’m willing to give it a little slack as long as it either builds on the source material, or at the very least kicks enough ass. Thankfully it all winds up inadvertently coming off like some unintentional conceptual effort that really shows the range the band had back then, not to mention carries on refining to this day.
While it’s refreshing to hear a band that focuses on groove metal or groove heavy thrash not dripping in Lamb of God worship beyond the similar to “Laid to Rest” cut “Fall of Man”, there’s no denying Reborn still has a good deal of obvious influences in the mix. “Lords Resistance Army” kicks off with a burdening presence, though the aforementioned band does bare some notable fangs from time to time. Thankfully there’s more of a hardcore presence in the riffs to counter it, as well as some Shadows Fall grade melodies and clean singing, not to mention some solid gutturals during the chorus that appear from time-to-time in other songs as well. And then there’s “The Morgue”, which is a far creepier experience when compared to the rest of the offering. Some aspects can be compared to slower Pantera, especially in the guitars when the pace becomes more intense, but the mood stands more like something an Italian death/doom metal act would come up with, which is far from a bad thing. Even the chilling acoustic notes around three-and-a-half minutes cast a cold shadow over the performance, as well as a chill straight up your spine in an odd necrophiliac sensation that, whether intentional or not, Deceased fans will definitely love.
“Our Dying World” has some melodic death tendencies on par with Dismember and At the Gates, the latter more so with the intensity it is capable of reaching. But then you hit the chorus, which is a lot more hopeful in comparison with an Arch Enemy anthemic solo that only furthers the sudden ray of sunlight amid the hopelessness that leads up to it. In fact, come the second disc of this semi-conceptual offering, things do take more of a positive turn with a few mental breaks in between. “My Last Line” is a good example, being more of a light-hearted performance with additional clean singing before giving way to the demons once more towards the end as it breaks into a more aggressive blackened thrash climax. It’s a sign of things to come as you journey further down the rabbit hole when you reach the brooding “OCD”.
While Reborn acts as a nice breath of fresh air from the millions of clones out there trying to suckle on the teat of whatever’s the most popular in the metal world today, Feared does still throw some influences and prior band history (most notably drummer Kevin Talley and his past with the likes of Chimaira and Decrepit Birth) into these re-recorded fan favorites. What we’re given ends up an enjoyable metal menagerie that often takes on a life of its own. It’s great to hear these original tracks in what could be their full glory that simply couldn’t be achieved back in the day due to the limitations imposed on the group, further showing Feared was a band not to be taken lightly even at their infancy. If you haven’t had the opportunity to check this act out, then now is your chance to see what they bring to the table.