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This Ending - "Dead Harvest" (CD)

This Ending - "Dead Harvest" CD cover image

"Dead Harvest" track listing:

1. Trace Of Sin (3:08)
2. Parasites (4:15)
3. Machinery (5:02)
4. Instigator Of Dead Flesh (3:53)
5. Dellusionists (3:52)
6. Army Of The Dying Sun (4:56)
7. Dead Harvest (4:56)
8. Tools Of Demise (4:19)
9. Deathtrade (4:57)
10. The Asylum (5:18)

Reviewed by on February 10, 2009

"'Dead Harvest” is your standard Swedish melodic death metal album, one that doesn’t push the boundaries of the genre, but provides a satisfying listening experience."

Swedish melodic death metal was huge in the mid-to-late 90’s, with In Flames, At The Gates, and Dark Tranquility leading the genre into the spotlight. Lately, the genre has stagnated quite a bit, and while a few of the original pioneers are still going strong, the tendency for melody and catchiness to take precedent over brutal riffing has become more prevalent.

This Ending, a band formerly known as A Canorous Quintet, has taken the no-frills approach to melodic death metal on their sophomore release, “Dead Harvest.” Stripped-down songwriting, lack of momentous keyboard orchestrations and female vocals, and the in-your-face production make “Dead Harvest” a solid slab of metal that doesn’t follow the trends many modern melodic death metal bands tend to progress towards.

From the opening riff of “Trace Of Sin” to the last dying notes of closer “The Asylum,” This Ending keeps the momentum going strong, never skipping a beat and providing an energetic sound that fans of the genre will react strongly to. The tracks lean on the more epic side, especially in the second half. The faster, upbeat material, which includes the opening track, “Instigator Of Dead Flesh” and “Dellusionists,” are the most note-worthy tunes on “Dead Harvest.” While the longer material has its moments, the band has a tendency to go off on tangents that weigh the album down, including repetitive rhythms and melodies from time to time. This Ending experiments with industrial sounds on a few outros to mixed results; the apocalyptical keyboard work on “Deathtrade” is effective, as is the slow fade-out in “The Asylum.”

The riffing is pure death metal, ripping its way through the listener’s eardrums, with the pummeling double bass work from Fredrik Andersson, of Amon Amarth fame, to provide back-up support. The guitar work is where the melodic elements make their appearance known, with solos that aim more for emotional impact than technical wizardry. The lead work in single “Parasites” and the cold, atmospheric “Machinery” is a prime example of the blunt, expressive mood This Ending gets across to the listener.

The lyrics deal with the standard death, destruction, and anger that have been the centerpiece of the genre for years. It's nothing too revolutionary, but This Ending is able to compose infectious choruses that are guaranteed to resonate with the live audience. Vocalist Mårten Hansen’s aggressive bark perfectly matches the bleakness of the lyrics, and is still able to keep the listener engaged throughout the duration of “Dead Harvest.” The only flaw with Hansen’s performance was the lack of variety in his range, mainly sticking with one style, occasionally adding in a soft-spoken verse or two.

“Dead Harvest” is your standard Swedish melodic death metal album, one that doesn’t push the boundaries of the genre, but provides a satisfying listening experience. The lack of any pretentious or bombastic musical elements is a welcome reprisal from most of the band’s contemporaries. This Ending is relentless in their sonic attack and demands the listener’s attention. “Dead Harvest” won’t change the world or suddenly bring the Swedish death metal genre back to its early days of glory, but it will provide 40-odd minutes of head-banging serendipity for those longing for the days of “The Gallery” and “Slaughter Of The Soul.”

Highs: Superb drumming, solid vocals, knack for catchy choruses

Lows: Some songs go on for too long, industrial elements are underdeveloped

Bottom line: "Dead Harvest" will fill the hunger of those longing for a good old-fashioned melodic death metal album.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)