Feral is a Swedish band that many categorize as a Death ‘n Roll outfit, but for the most part don’t really fall into that field. At least, not with their debut full-length offering, Dragged to the Altar. While the group does have a Rock vibe and some elements similar, it becomes impossible to sit down and just flat out call them a Death ‘n Roll act, and considering how bad the style was butched by Six Feet Under, that greatly works in the band’s favor. But, though this is a stronger Death Metal release then anything, do these Rock elements, or the band in general, have a solid footing in the Metal world to stand out?
Well, the band isn’t necessarily one of the most unique acts to walk the face of the world as far as this style goes, but for the most part, Feral bring a strong Swedish Death Metal approach sound to Dragged to the Altar. The music is catchy and has a strong Swedish Death Metal vibe similar to that of bands like Dismember, but some songs have bridges, or, like with “Altar of Necromancy”, has a nice Rock ‘N Roll vibe to the already existing groove from the sound the band is going for. The gutterals are pretty rough, having a very sand papery feel to them, and it fits the heavy bass driven music, which is where much of the Rock groove can be found, though the more upbeat guitar chords don’t hurt either. But not all songs happen to feature that strong a Rock presence, and the tracks that don’t are often just as catchy, if not moreso.
“Welcome to the Graveyard” is a fantastic song that takes a traditional Death Metal stance to the music with chugging guitar chords that have a strong groove to them, setting up a dark, yet rather sleek atmosphere thanks to the clearer production quality. The heavy and rather distinquishable bass in the mix helps make the music sound far more crushing, and the gutterals are spot-on with the overall intense and hook-driven simpler music. The chorus matches the simplicity in just being the title of the song repeated twice in different timing signatures, but when everything comes together, the song becomes a pounding track that is catchy and mandatory to headbang to whether you want or not, finding you belting out your deepest gutterals from the depths of your body with the chorus. And that’s one thing this recording offers in great quality and supply: Variety. Obviously this song differs greatly from “Once Inside the Tomb” and the more traditional Swedish Death Metal template of “Altar of Necromancy”, and it’s a welcome fact since the general sound of the songs remain the same, but the atmosphere and compositions often vary greatly.
Sadly, while some of the earlier tracks on here are well done, often energetic, catchy, and able to whip any fan of Death Metal intro a frenzy, not all the songs on here are as addicting. While Dragged to the Altar has plenty fo solid songs, and some have a good Rock influence to them that sometimes shows through, some later tracks end up just not being the most engaging or thrilling. “The Deathbog” is where the album starts to slow down a little more. “The Curse of the Casket” and “Behead the Crucifix” are composed of solid Death Metal, but the problem becomes that the songs themselves are just bland compared to the earlier material. “Malevolent Summoning” does a good job at being another heavy track like “Once Inside the Tomb” and dragging it out of the generic depths that the latter songs seem to be stuck in, and “Outro” is a nice acoustic piece to close the release out with. Sadly, Dragged to the Altar definitely doesn’t end with as big a bang as it started.
Dragged to the Altar does show some Rock impressions, but they are very minimal, and not enough to really take the band into a Death ‘n Roll world like many believe. The sound here is more traditional Swedish Death Metal, and for the most part is done well and will have you ready to headbang or mosh during many of the songs. Not all the songs are great, a few coming up as filler, but the album is definitely well worth taking some time to check out. There are still a number of great songs on here that are really memorable, as well as will have you coming back for more even when the filler songs feel old and boring over time.