Diabolical – Ars Vitae (Abyss Records)

Thursday, 21st March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

One of those mid-level Swedish death metal bands that are routinely lost in the shuffle, Diabolical have a lot going for themselves, as their un-derivative sound (think Hypocrisy, minus the melody and alien stories) should have netted them more of a following at this point. Fifteen years into the death metal game, the band is putting their career on display with Ars Vitae, which is a smattering of new tracks, live tracks, and older cuts.

The album opens with the new “Sightless 6,” a song that brings to mind the mid-paced exploits of mid-90’s era Hypocrisy (like “Roswell 47”). Actually, this sort of simplistic, song-first style always scores well, and because there’s a noticeable degree of cohesion and dynamics embedded here, it’s an early winner. Same bodes for “Eye,” which is in virtually in the same ballpark thanks to a wide stance of bruising riffs and a blast-beat portion that heads right into a seismic atmospheric portion.

Live songs are always a tricky proposition, but Diabolical benefits from an excellent soundboard recording, giving the more classic Swedish DM flavor of “Under My Skin” and the blasting “Children of the Mushroom Cloud” an ample amount of juice. Closing out the album are a quartet of older jams, all of which suffer from inferior sound quality and fall into the crosshairs of the then-burgeoning Swedish death and black metal scene, something Diabolical were clearly fascinated with around the mid-90’s.

Given the strength of a lot of the new songs and all of the live cuts, it makes one wonder where Diabolical have been hiding all of this time. As one of the more underrated entities in Swedish death metal, moves like a compilation such as Ars Vitae are never a bad idea.

www.diabolical.se

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)