Slain: Before the Inferno

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Slain: Before the Inferno
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Slain: Before the Inferno

Quid Est Veritas Productions
December 24th, 2013
Release length: 35:25
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When it comes to Death Metal from Poland, there are plenty of big names out there, and fans of the genre typically hold very high standards for groups of that region of the world. This happens to be the homeland of Slain, a group that formed back in 2005, but only issued their debut full-length album Before the Inferno in late 2013 through Quid Est Veritas Productions. With at least eight years of development time since the entities birth to weave a solid album, does Before the Inferno meet all expectations laid before them?

Before the Inferno is largely fixated on a groove filled Death Metal approach similar to Cannibal Corpse, but isn’t too afraid to through some chaotic blast beats into the fray. “Confession of the Blind Messiah” carries that band’s early Corpsegrinder-era groove and even vocal style with pride. Thick guitars and immediately infectious riffs and drums make the faster verses impossible not to bang your head along to, and the slower complexities hard to not feel intimidated by. Sadly, while it’s full of enthusiasm and the best cut of the release, which ends up not being a good thing to say here, it’s definitely not that unique a track. It also sets the bar a bit too high for the rest of the album.

“Wings of War” does maintain that groove-heavy performance, but it all sounds a bit thinner. The guitars sound a little lighter, and even the guttural vocals come off a bit weaker, though the addition of some rasps are a nice touch. While a decent track, it lacks any real impact, especially when the scraping twang that sounds nore like a distortion than something from the bass comes through a lot louder at the end. “Thorn” offers some additional complexity with the same amount of push behind the guitars that seem a bit dull thanks to the speed they are played and the simpler steady drums behind them. It’s the passages with simpler hooks that stand out the most, though are shrugged off for an extensive slower chunk with simpler chords that attempt to create a slam breakdown without the necessary backbone about two minutes in.

“Malleus Maleficarum” picks up some additional intensity that blends some early Kataklysm fury with hooks that set up an oppressive atmosphere. For the most part the performance is simple, but as it builds to the chorus, the band starts to go a bit too far with the music, causing that sharper scraping distortion to really take over and drown out the deeper tuning a bit. It may sound like an odd concept, but it makes for a nice change of pace that feeds a little more energy into the mix. “War is Coming” is more of a bare bones song that plods along at a mid-tempo pace, though some passages find tighter, faster drumming to fill the gaps. It isn’t anything special to really sink your teeth into, but it does have more of a commanding vibe than the slower chugs try to give “Omen.”

The biggest issue Before the Inferno has going for it is that, not only have we heard it all before, but the band offers very little variety to the mix outside of tempo changes and varied volume levels on certain distortions. Outside the richer enthusiastic performance of “Confession of the Blind Messiah,” every song basically has the same deep tuning, often similar and predictable patterns and guitar solo placements, and a pretty steady guttural performance that offers little range outside some random rasps here and there. On your first spin it’s hard not to get swept up on the infectious material, energetic or not. But, before long, Before the Inferno starts to wear thin and become stagnant.

There’s no denying Slain are not looking to become part of the slowly dying off revival the genre recently experienced, but they do seem to be stuck in the nineties Death Metal world with what is on display here. Given the time they formed, it’s no surprise, but even by 2005 or 2006 standards, this just isn’t that impressive. There are some noteworthy songs on here that you will come back to experience here and there, or to share that same initial experience excitement you might have originally had. While this ends up a recording that probably is more enjoyable live than it actually comes off from the studio, Before the Inferno ends up a rather boring release that will find more time collecting dust than it will being played.

01. Confession of the Blind Messiah – 4:26
02. Wings of War – 3:50
03. Malleus Maleficarum – 4:33
04. War is Coming – 3:38
05. Fucking Gods – 3:33
06. Deadly Midget – 4:57
07. Thorn – 5:19
08. Omen – 5:11
Initial Pressing Score: 4/10

Slain
Slain

Physical review copy of this release provided by Quid Est Veritas Productions.