God Macabre – Winterlong Reissue (Relapse)

Sunday, 1st June 2014
Rating: 5/10

The liberal use of the word “classic” needs to stop. Contrary to certain belief subsets, not every album originating from the 80’s and 90’s deserves such a tag. It’s almost a disservice to the albums that genuinely are classics. Bar lowered. Scene further clogged with wannabes. And so here is the reissue by the usually-reliable Relapse for God Macabre’s 1993 album, Winterlong, a body of work that easily got sucked into the industrial-strength death metal vacuum circa 1993 when the sound effectively took a giant nosedive. This is about as rote of a Swedish death metal album you’ll find. (Next to the retro garbage we’re currently inundated with, actually.)

The only name of substance would be guitarist Jonas Stahlhammer, who had his brief moment in the sun fronting The Crown from 2009 to 2011. The rest of the band, and particularly album, blend without much of a fight into the Scandinavian death metal scenery of the time. One can somewhat reconcile with where God Macabre were headed with Winterlong, being that Entombed circa 1993 were fully engrossed with death ‘n’ roll, and Dismember and Grave were gradually tiring of the Stockholm sound. So essentially, that’s what the deal is with these tunes, most bearing obvious Left Hand Path similarities (“Lost” and “In Grief”), while others having the oddball eerie guitar melody moment (“Teardrops”).

Quite unsure why Relapse would take a flier on this, especially considering the run of success they’ve had with the Atheist and Death reissues. God Macabre pales in comparison to those two, and are basically a poor facsimile of mid-90’s Stockholm death metal. Bad timing too – the retro retrogrades of late have rendered even the more ardent and formidable releases of that era somewhat null. Winterlong exasperates the matter.

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