Heads For the Dead – In the Absence of Faith (Pulverised Records)

Monday, 28th August 2023
Rating: 8.5 / 10

An international act with ties across Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States – Heads for the Dead fuses a love for horror/thriller films with an engaging melodic death metal style. Already releasing three full-length albums and an EP since 2017, the four-piece returns with another five song EP for In the Absence of Faith. The movie-style font for the band logo along with the brooding dark concepts penetrating your eyes from the cover sets the listener up on a thoughtful journey, the compositions possessing an evil gathering of European influences that travel across death, doom, and even progressive landscapes.

Swedish musician Jonny Pettersson (of Wombath, Massacre, and ten other band/projects active these days) tackles guitars, bass, keyboards, fx, plus recording, mixing, and mastering duties – fleshing out this material through the vocals of Ralf Hauber, drummer Jon Rudin, as well as lead guitar help courtesy of Sentient Horror’s Matt Moliti. The use of keyboards weaves a haunting aural tapestry around the growls and screams Ralf employs as the guitars chug at a low mid-tempo to slightly faster pace during early highlight “Taste of Terror”. The melodic moments and narrative aspects appear in dynamic spots – while the charging rhythm section/ riff parade conjures up soundtrack measures to match the lyrical content on display, as “The God Forsaken” achieves through some sinister blasting/punk sequences against the normal European death influence template. Closer “Possession” has a shapeshifting atmosphere, the heavier riffs circling around some sadistic growls/screams as the numerous keyboards/choir accents give the track a pulsating, semi-progressive feel, Matt ripping out a thoughtful lead break that contains a mix of shredding and Maiden-esque tactfulness.

The well of inspiration runs high for Heads For the Dead – as this is the fourth consecutive year with at least an album or EP release. In the Absence of Faith intertwines a lot of classic European death metal atmosphere, riffs, and hooks while still being creative and captivating, that edge of your seat entertainment which most of the underground hordes desire when it comes to this style.

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