Firespawn – The Reprobate (Century Media)

Tuesday, 2nd May 2017
Rating: 7.5/10

Until Firespawn’s 2015 Shadow Realms debut, vocalist L-G Petrov had sang on only one other “true” death metal album, Entombed’s unbeatable 1990 Left Hand Path debut. It’s interesting since most people consider Mr. Petrov to be a death metal singer, yet for the good part of his career, he’s been grunting over death ‘n’ roll. Therefore, hearing the man at full, heavy bellow on both Shadow Realms and now The Reprobate gives further validation to Petrov’s skills. He’s still one of the finest death metal vocalists going.

With the supergroup sheen now worn off (Firespawn also features current and former members of Dark Funeral, Defleshed, and Necrophobic), The Reprobate breaks through the proverbial sophomore album gauntlet. At its root and core, the album is pure-bred Swedish death metal, unvarnished, to the gut, and overt. Opener (and best jam) “Serpent of the Ocean” is as monstrous as a death metal tune you’ll hear this year, with precise speed-picking and drummer Matte Modin’s pugnacious blasting carrying the load. Bits of technicality worm their way through “Blood Eagle” and “Generals Creed,” while the grind-a-long temperament of “Full of Hate” and mid-paced “The Whitechapel Murder” are heaving doses of flagrant Swedish DM.

Well past the point of even attempting to reinvent the wheel or breathe new life into an old, but tested sound, Firespawn simply function to remind us all what can happen when a bunch of veterans get together to throw down some well-meaning, unpretentious death metal. While there’s little, if anything new to gleam from The Reprobate, there’s enough here to prompt one to go, “Yeah, this is how it’s supposed to be.”

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