Them – Fear City (Steamhammer/ SPV)Friday, 4th November 2022
Already establishing a reputation for taking King Diamond-influenced metal into a bit more of a heavier/modern direction, the stage was set after completing a trilogy of records to possibly start a new story, or just position things in a sequel mode. For the fourth album international power/heavy metal outfit Them takes Fear City into the 20th century, pushing KK Fossor to find the descendent of the Witchhunter, working as televangelist Peter Thompson in New York during 1981. The intertwining of horror-filled lyrics, and engaging story line, plus versatile music that shifts through thrash, doom, progressive, and extreme angles ensures that these fourteen tracks aren’t one-trick ponies in terms of tempos, emotions, aggression, or atmosphere.
The shapeshifting guitar chords plus equally vigorous drum parts allow “191st Street” to be a progressive highlight, the extra female voicing providing additional haunting angles beyond KK’s fierce, multi-octave presence. An epic outing such as “The Crossing of Hellgate Bridge” give guitarists Markus Ullrich and Markus Johansson to pull from their seasoned axe playbooks from clean textures to dramatic power chords at a doom to classic heavy metal level. When the group want to get into speed crushing mode, they have the musicians to execute at bullet train precision power – check out the killer blast beats and adept blazing snare, kick, and fill combination from Steve Bolognese during “Death on the Downtown Metro”. Keyboardist Richie Seibel leads the musical hook charge in the short instrumental “A Most Violent Year” – segueing seamlessly into the next galloping effort “The Deconsecrated House of Sin”. The additional shorter sound clip/narrative sequences allow the record to flow briskly without overwhelming the listener, including elements that make you feel like you are back in the early 80’s including tones/ news reports specific to that time period. Mastermind soundman Dave Otero took all of these recordings from both sides of the Atlantic and pulled together the cohesive, sonic output that is moving, driving, thoughtful while 100% authentic to the heavy metal ethos of the band.
Given the fact that who knows when King will release a new studio record for his own entity (or Mercyful Fate for that matter), Them quenches that combination of horror-themed conceptual metal in a heavier, power/progressive thrash-oriented context. Which makes Fear City another devil horns approved outing.