Holocaustum – In the Fields They Bled (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)

Thursday, 30th April 2015
Rating: 8/10

Ever yearn for those bands that can hit the proverbial sweet spot? In terms of death metal, this more or less equates to pulling a timeless feeling to the music behind you. No one is quick to pull the “old school” or “technical” or “brutal” tags to give you a particular leaning. It’s just death metal. Relentless and punishing death metal. No taglines required. Holocaustum has nailed this with In the Fields They Bled.

To achieve this feeling, Holocaustum takes a number of flavors into their sound without making things lean too far in one overall direction. They take the groove-heavy, straight-ahead attack of Bolt Thrower, some slight technical markings, the heaviness of Morbid Angel and Sinister, and combine them with just a trace of ‘90s black metal (a la Dark Funeral or Emperor). There’s a dark and brooding approach to the guitars, and the thick production job helps make them into a monstrous wall of sound from time to time. But despite the heavy approach, the songs are filled with admirable leads and some scorching solos (“Remnants of the Dead”) that lean a bit on the melodic side and create an interesting dynamic from the otherwise oppressive atmosphere. Adding to the pummeling are the vocals of Shawna Silvers, which add a brutal consistency to the album.

In the Fields They Bled will induce a war march that is hard to ignore. Cramming together multiple sources into a disc of death metal goodness is often filled with folly. Yet Holocaustum have created an offering that just about everyone in extreme metal can enjoy without specifically catering to an intended audience. Familiar yet satisfying. Hard to beat that.

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