REVIEW: FIRESPAWN – “Shadow Realms”
Unless you’re up-to-date with your Scandinavian-based extreme metal, it’s certainly likely that you’re not aware of the Swedish death metal band Firespawn. The group formed in 2015 and released a single entitled “Lucifer Has Spoken”, before releasing their debut full-length Shadow Realms the same year.
The opening track on the record is called “The Emperor”, which opens with repetitive bursts of ominous noise before launching into very technical riffing and brutal vocals from the band’s vocalist, Lars Goran Petrov. The song hurtles along with an intensity particularly reminiscent of other Swedish death metal acts instead of the traditional Floridian death metal bands who have come to define the genre for some. The track that follows is entitled “Imperial Burning”, explodes right from the beginning with lots of nicely-produced sounding instrumentation, while still being able to retain its aggression with the heavy amounts of guitar distortion complimenting Petrov’s guttural vocalism. The guitar melodies on the parts of Victor Brandt and Fredrik Folkare are notable and undeniably impressive, but the track experiences its only downfall due to its conclusion which I feel ends too suddenly as the song could have been bettered with a guitar solo or a final verse or chorus to round out the song more appropriately.
The album’s third song is called “Lucifer Has Spoken”, which was released by Firespawn prior to the release of Shadow Realms. This is the first track on the record to employ a softer, more melodic vocal in place of the usual heavier growling, but the added addition works surprisingly well in conjunction with the remaining members of the group. Following on from this is the song “Spirit of the Black Tide” which slams to a start with infectious instrumental grooves that are reminiscent of some technical death metal music. The general feel of this record so far is that it’s intended for lots of pits and headbanging at concerts, which is a feeling the album does well to stir up in the listener. The guitar solo moments throughout the song are also a positive stand-out moment for the track itself. The album’s fifth song is entitled “Contemplate Death”, which opens with an unusual acoustic introduction which is very rare for a death metal band to attempt, especially a band whose music is as visceral and ferocious as Firespawn’s is. This instrumental section appears to have elements of Middle-Eastern and African music running throughout, which makes it all the more appealing that the band is able to incorporate global influences for the acoustic track which serves as an instrumental piece to split the album in two, as well as provide a short distraction for the listener from the brutality that has come before it.
Track number 6 on the album is entitled “All Hail”, which kicks off back into full-gear with lots of nice and heavy metal instrumentation along with the signature vocal-style of Lars Goran Petrov. This track is yet another clear exemplification of the band’s brilliant guitar chemistry between Brandt and Folkare. The next song on Shadow Realms goes by the name of “Ruination”, kicking off by means of a very brief drum solo before the familiar vocals and guitars roar in once more, which make “Ruination” one of the better songs on the record. The album approaches its final segment with the song “Necromance”, consisting of lots of technical death metal riffing and blast-beat drumming designed to please fans of the genre accustomed to such intricate and complex musicianship. The vocal delivery of singer Lars Goran Petrov again impresses, as does the sheer sound of his voice.
The record’s title track “Shadow Realms” opens with the same sort of technique heard before with songs on this record; lots and lots of fast-paced death metal, which even nine songs into Shadow Realms does not appear to become formulaic due to the variety of rhythm and time signatures on display here, as well as the particularly meaty growl at the end of the song. The album’s penultimate track entitled “Ginnunga”, and the album’s final track, entitled “Infernal Eternal”, once more carry on the same instrumental theme heard in previous songs on this album, which will please listeners who have enjoyed what they have heard thus far.
To sum up, Shadow Realms by Firespawn is an ideal record for fans of DevilDriver, Nile, Lamb of God, Deicide, Behemoth, and extreme metal in general.