CHAOSBREED
"Brutal"

(Century Media)

01. Wretched Life
02. Casket Ride
03. Faces of Death
04. Moralized
05. Rotting Alive
06. Demon Skunk
07. Shitgrinder
08. Symptoms of the Flesh
09. F/C/D/C
10. An Evil Eye

RATING: 5.5/10

Some albums you imagine being a real blast to make for those sweating inside the studio, but once they've emerged into the world beyond the faders and tape machines, they just don't seem as vital to us ordinary mortals. "Brutal", the first full-length release from this Finnish "supergroup" (featuring among its ranks ex-SENTENCED man Taneli Jarva, plus Esa Holopainen of AMORPHIS) is a classic case in point — an album you really wish would make all the right moves considering the classic early Swedish death scene it's taking reference points from.

"Brutal" is of course that term of descriptive affection achingly familiar to anyone who has taken death metal to their hearts over a number of years. And, conversely, that's the problem with CHAOSBREED's interpretation of the art — it's just too damn achingly familiar.

For starters, the production is vintage Tomas "Sunlight Studios" Skogsberg — amusingly so — only fractionally updated by deskmen Santeri Kallio and Niclas Etelävuori. Nothing much wrong with that, granted, just as long as the band do something vaguely unique as they run with it. Yet "Brutal", in the main, doesn't stretch to that.

Right from the off, opener "Wretched Life" re-enacts "Left Hand Path"'s instantaneous riff sprint (from the 1989 album of the same name) as if ENTOMBED had never happened. "Symptoms Of the Flesh" shares a lot more than a word in its title with "Revel In Flesh" from the very same ENTOMBED album. And, if you want even more blatant than that, check out "Faces Of Death", which goes closer to those signature "South Of Heaven" harmonic notes than most bands have dared to go in SLAYER's wake. And that's saying something.

The unfortunate thing is that you really want trad albums like this to succeed, considering that death metal in many of its modern guises has arguably turned into a shadow of its former self. But plagiarism to this degree just doesn't cut it, especially when the some of the less derivative stuff on here ("Shitgrinder") seems hollow and slightly lost without someone else's song to hang itself on.

"Brutal" isn't by far the worst album you'll hear this year, but when ENTOMBED's Uffe Cunderlund and Jörgen Sandström came in to add a touch more guitar/vocal muscle to the proceedings (we're not told where they crop up exactly), you can bet they were suffering déjà vu of outrageous proportions. Until CHAOSBREED can at least sound like they're writing their own viable riffs, and unless you can live with unreserved copycat bands, those dusty old classics on the shelf will do exactly the same job.

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