Veteran German and Dutch extreme thrash-death act Dew-Scented has released its tenth and latest studio effort, titled Intermination, on Metal Blade Records. The digital edition of Intermination contains 15 tracks of high speed malevolence that promises to sweep rage and fury across the airwaves.
The band seeks to build inter-album and inter-song consistency – for example, by beginning each album’s title with the letter I. Highly formulaic in their musical approach, they offer what few others do nowadays: consistent sounding output. Dew-Scented are fast, brutal death-thrash specialists and aren’t afraid to let that show. That said, if you like one album, you’ll likely enjoy them all. Intermination is their 2015 offering, which is not substantially different from their 2013 compilation offering, or previous works. It’s still the same basic tuning, tempo ranges, approach, and vocal style. As a band who choose to not vary their sound much from disc to disc, they’ve perfected their own branchlet of extreme metal.
Dew-Scented does not want to become accessible or commercial, so the band has not wavered in their songwriting style; Intermination proves that. The lineup may have shifted (and kept the band blazing), but their core sound – loud, fast, aggressive, in your face – has not changed. Over-evolution in any niche or genre can be a liability. In the case of a saturated music subgenre, the self-imposed songwriting rules become, as a harsh critic might say, blinders on a one-trick-pony. Now, if that pony happens to be a million dollar thoroughbred, nobody’s going to bat an eyelash at such a dismissive broadside: speed and consistency are what creates and maintains a winner. That is what Dew-Scented continue to strive to remain: top notch winners for their style.
Elements of early Metallica, later Slayer, occasional early Testament, and a variety of European metal influences shine on this dark, aggressive release. Intermination‘s songs feature faster tempos, vicious and blasting guitar riffs, and hateful, relatively unintelligible, gruff screaming vocals. For the most part, Dew-Scented’s tunes are too brisk to do any real headbanging in the old-school sense. Bodies might start flying – windmilling and crazy moshpitting might end up off the hook at their shows, judging by the ferocity of these songs. Many songs have rapid, tastefully executed guitar solos. Songs whiz by. They’re a little frantic and very unrelaxed.
On Intermination, “Ode To Extinction” is the most ‘modern melodic Swedish metal’ type sounding track, with a bit of a different vibe to it. It presents several of Dew-Scented’s different ideas and tempos. This tune lets the band stretch out a tiny bit from the very narrow subgenre they’re pursuing. “Power Surge” has a really catchy intro; it’s very heavy and well executed. The song’s title is very fitting, as to it’s impact and overall intent or power: it is furious. There are lots of little percussion and tempo shifts in here, adding interest to the tune. “Atavistic” sports a burly bass-driven intro. Some vocal experimentation with an interesting ‘Obituary’esque vocoder effect lends itself to the chorus. “Reborn” features some guest vocals. “Radiation Sickness”, a Repulsion cover, is fiercely done.
A critique of Intermination‘s sound is in it’s mix. The digital edition sounded tinny and lacking bass on a normal, average computer-based listening system, representing an average listener’s setup. EQ did not remove what sounded like compression artifacts, such as unintended swishy or whining tones on cymbals. At ear-bleeding volume listening levels that should not have to be pushed to enjoy an album, the sound was really appealing (but still a bit tinny, trebly, and digital). Some guitar solos are also much louder then the surrounding track, a mixing issue that should simply not be present at the helm or hands of a master engineer. It’s a shame because Dew-Scented selected Dan Swano to mix this. The bass is nicely represented in the mix, just… with no punch. The sound might be salvageable: the band’s 2013 compilation album sounded good through average earbuds, so perhaps this 2015 disc will sound nice with some high frequency noise reduction and leveling, as happens with a majority of earbuds. Selling music in 2015 is tricky though, with studio perfection favored for these more technical releases. Losing an entire album to an iffy mix would be very unfortunate.
Enigmatically named, Dew-Scented has delivered, with Intermination, another smoldering disc filled with what the band’s fans want to hear, and know by now to expect.
Declaration of Intent
On a Collision Course
Scars of Creation
Means to an End
Ode to Extinction
Those Who Will Not See
Leif Jensen – Vocals
Rory Hansen – Guitars
Marvin Vriesde – Guitars
Joost van der Graaf – Bass Guitar
Koen Herfst – Drums