Bombs of Hades – Death Mask Replica (War Anthem Records)

Sunday, 3rd January 2016
Rating: 8/10

The more things advance technically in extreme metal, the more other things remain steady like fine wine. You just can’t beat a lot of the primitive death/crust atmosphere that made Autopsy, Entombed, Discharge, and Repulsion favorites for a lot of future musicians to mold into their own creative ways. Sweden’s Bombs of Hades formed in 2002 intent on keeping those early traditions alive, as Death Mask Replica represents the fourth full-length in the quartet’s discography – slaying with 10 songs that would make those 80’s/90’s forefathers beam.

An interesting death roll drum fill gives the churning guitar/bass action for the title track a momentous start – the speedy Motörhead oriented Butch Ekman bass line keeping the arrangement galloping away, while the lead break has more of a melodic, old school flavor. P-O Söderback and Jonas Stålhammar ride the riff parade at mid-tempo to slightly faster paces, providing volleying counterpoint measures to add tension for “Tombsday” while leveling you in thicker Entombed-ish power during the creepy “When the Reaper Comes”.

Jonas has a venomous rasp to his low vocal delivery – dragging out certain words for added intense effect (most notable on the quick hitting highlight “Long May You Rot”). The production favors that old Sunlight Studios vibe – a dirty bass, natural sounding drums, and lower tuned guitars that keeps things groovy yet evil. Occasional keyboards also sprinkle into many of the songs, but only as an added effect and not a main player for Bombs of Hades – the four-piece can do just fine in the aural devastation department through their preferred weapons of aggression.

The primitive skeleton that’s given a black and white background for the cover gives Death Mask Replica another throwback aspect to signal the listener that it’s all about creating solid songs with strong death/crust hooks here. Bombs of Hades keep the legacy of late 80’s/early 90’s death alive and kicking, a touch more musical dynamic than expected which should keep interest long-term.

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