Despite changing fashions within the rock and metal community, there’s always been plenty of room for bands who like to keep things traditional. DeathCollector – a band bringing together English/Irish musicians and featuring an ex-member of Bolt Thrower – brazenly fly the flag for no nonsense trad death metal on their debut EP. There are moments where the death is peppered by other equally angry subgenres, but in the main, its three tracks bring together some massive riffs and a sense of force that calls back to many of death’s forefathers. The bulk of the material may be hugely retro, but between some impeccably played riffs and tautly wound, relentless rhythms, the band’s desire to draw heavily from the past sounds anything but stale.
The band’s title song kicks off this short release with the kind of old school death metal tune that just won’t be argued with. A slow riff emerges from the speakers with an ominous, almost horror themed melody which crossed with the siren like clarity of a slower Slayer workout, will be enough alone to grab most people’s attention. Moving into the verse, DeathCollector demonstrate how they have the old Death and Cannibal Corpse sound down pat, but are able to improve on that due to a more modern production that gives the recording a much tougher quality. Frontman Kieran Scott settles into a performance that’s heavily weighted by the expected death grunts, yet his voice is just about clear enough to make out various lyrics and messages, and although his vocal style will always be the kind that divides opinion, it works excellently against the howling lead guitar and escalating speed. Between his intense presence and a great pneumatic drum part, the track is more than solid, but brief instrumental interludes really helps to elevate the performance. The band mix thrash, death and hardcore in a brilliant melting pot of aggression, and it sounds great. There’s no time for excessive flashiness here; there isn’t a guitar solo, the main groove rarely devitates from its original pummelling that’s set in place from about a minute in, but in just over four minutes DeathCollector seem set to wipe the floor with any similar competition.
…And things continue with the same level of quality. ‘Internal Expansion’ offers a classic death metal grind with a repetitive chug underscored by some fantastic circular guitar riffs, before dropping into several bars of intensive thrash coupled with a typical death vocal. The marriage of vocal and music is perfect throughout – delivering sounds that’ll be brimming with nostalgia for fans of the style – but it’s great to hear the band stretching out a little further here. By incorporating a dark atonal lead break and a couple of pneumatic bridges, this number place a greater focus on their abilities to create a really tight sound, and that really comes into its own during an extended coda where the four musicians lock down some timeless death grooves in the tradition of old Bolt Thrower, only with a much bigger production sound. For those who somehow feel the first two tracks were lightweight, the shorter and (sometimes) faster ‘Terrorizer’ shakes up the band’s core with a more abrasive guitar sound as six stringer Mick Carey incorporates more of a grindcore tone – albeit briefly – during the opening bars. Experimenting with a slow, grinding, almost groove metal approach during the second half to incorporate an equally uncompromising solo shows further how Carey and the rest of the band are able to change things up from time to time, absolutely effortlessly and without ever diluting their traditional death intents. Between these two extremes, its business as usual, with the rhythm section of Andy Whale (drums) and Lee Cummings (bass) anchoring everything with the utmost speed and precision, creating an almost timeless sound. With a good balance between aggression and variety here, in many ways, DeathCollector bow out with their best number.
DeathCollector set out their musical intentions with a brilliant and unwavering clarity on this debut EP. Its three tracks present some top tier, somewhat retro sounds that are a solid reminder that, despite being marginal, things with a death metal heart never seem to get old. The obvious death metal core means they’ll immediately be preaching to the converted, but those who spent the late 80s and early 90s immersed themselves in Death, Bolt Thrower and Entombed albums will almost certainly find this short blast of largely old school extreme metal very broad in appeal.