Sewers and cemeteries typically end up somewhere in the themes of Razorback releases, don't they? Witness VACANT COFFIN, a trio of sewer chewing, graveyard lurking Fins that profess a deep love of old school death metal on "Sewer Skullpture". Symptoms of IMPETIGO are surely present, but this 16-track release owes more to the early Swedish death metal legends, as well as occasionally tipping the hat to the likes of TERRORIZER.
As far as wheel reinvention is concerned, you can forget about it. Then again, what were you expecting? Razorback's answer to PAIN OF SALVATION? I thought so. Featuring guitarist/vocalist Lasse Pyykko from early '90s underground dwellers PHLEGETHON and doom terrorists HOODED MENACE, the guys in VACANT COFFIN present to you a competent collection of dirt nuggets that keeps the mind from wandering and gets the noggin nodding in appreciation. It ain't rocket science, but there is a certain skill required in pulling off this kind of material in a way that doesn't become lost in the mire of imitation. In other words, VACANT COFFIN does justice to the beloved style. The band smartly mixes in the right amount of groove ("Mutant Gross-Out Fest" takes the cake here) with selective use of blast beats and maintains momentum throughout the duration. Just the right amount of tempo shifts and a handful of twisted leads (check out "Tales of Suppuration") are heard, as are occasional atmospheric touches (the horror movie keyboards that introduce "Sewer by the Cemetery" and the slow creep of "Razor Justice"), all adding to the album's appeal. Finally, a grotesque and massive guitar tone and bass buzz are just what the doctor ordered.
The short of it is that fans of the old school and Razorback devotees should be plenty satisfied with "Sewer Skullpture". VACANT COFFIN won't be crowned the new kings of death. They just do it right and do it well.