HEARSE
"In These Veins"

(Candlelight)

01. House of Love
02. Corroding Armour
03. Intoxication
04. Naked Truth
05. Crusade
06. Among the Forlorn
07. Atrocious Recoil
08. Hearse
09. In These Veins

RATING: 8/10

If the new ENTOMBED left you flat, and you're looking for "death and roll" (really, is there a dumber name for a subgenre?) with plenty of speedy punk beats, out-of-left-field melodies, and seemingly boundless energy, then your new favorite band has just delivered your album of the year. HEARSE has been criminally underrated since their inception, despite three stellar albums, known primarily as vocalist Johan Liiva's home after his ouster from the much more high-profile ARCH ENEMY. If there's any extra justice laying around in 2007, though, perhaps this can be the year HEARSE finally gets recognized as the place the man belonged all along, not to mention one of the world's most kickass death-and-roll bands.

Liiva's charismatic roar definitely piques the interest here, a bellow that goes back to the early 90's (anyone remember FURBOWL?) and has a forceful quality, unadorned by tons of digital effects (good ol' fashioned reverb doesn't count). Liiva's old FURBOWL partner in crime, Max Thornell, tosses plenty of different stuff into the guitar stew — DISCHARGE punk thrash fury, surprising lead melodies, and chugging Swedish death metal all coexist in the world of HEARSE, amped up and delivered with a fuck-you fervor and a firm grasp on how to put all these elements together into great songs.

"In These Veins" is actually a little less dynamic than their masterful "Armageddon Mon Amour" album, with a bit more emphasis on speed and whiplash, but even here there are some nice midtempo surprises – the chorus of "House of Love", the crunchy and martial "Crusade" (talk about an "Orgasmatron" vibe in the verse!). "Among the Forlorn" is arguably the most representative song here, with a galloping chorus, a verse dripping with midtempo attitude, and plenty of guitar trills and frills to keep things interesting — it's undeniably catchy, brutally heavy and it just damn well rocks!

No matter what speed HEARSE operate at, though, they infuse these songs with an infectious, ferocious "oomph" that puts them over — there's not a moment on this album to be bored, or a place where they sound like they're phoning it in. Short, intense as hell, and full of eminently enjoyable metal, "In These Veins" is the sound of a band too damn good to wallow in obscurity while the leading lights of the genre lose interest.

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