Wombbath have an interesting background; they were around during the first half of the ‘90s, helping to mold the Swedish death scene and adding to the growth of the OSDM style. After splitting for nearly two decades, they reformed and started releasing more albums in 2015. Choirs Of The Fallen is their newest, the third since reformation and the fourth overall. The buzzing tones and “death ‘n roll” tactics on this disc make it seem easy to pinpoint where they’re headed.
Don’t let that mislead you, because it isn’t as straightforward or digestible as it lets on in the opener “Fallen.” This tune is an incredible one, loaded with swinging rhythms and tiny hints of melody in the vocal pattern. Not everything follows suit, though. The vocals vary from dark and brooding gutturals to higher-pitched shrieks that are common in melodic death metal. Double tracks are sometimes used, and I’ll admit that the growls grow tiresome. The cold nature of them lets on too hard and overtakes the rest from time-to-time.
But when they aren’t grasping too much presence, there are some gems. The second half is stronger than the first half, and “A Vulgar Declaration” resurrects the energy that was lost after “Fallen.” There are some slam/beatdown styled patterns, which ring in a hint of hardcore. “Void” is also a fun one because of the booming chant break where the riffs and vocals latch onto each other, carrying a lot of momentum. The drumming on Choirs Of The Fallen is superb in general, and some of the best parts are when the leads cool off and let them break more ground.
Pianos and keys aren’t particularly common in this genre, but they make an appearance anyway. This adds effect to the aforementioned cooler moments, especially when backing the terror screams in “Wings Of Horror.” That song certainly doesn’t need to be as long as it is, which is another issue that holds Wombbath back. Some of these wander on for longer than what’s welcome, contributing to the vocals getting tiresome as well. On the flip side, it does add some levels of epicness, which can be heard in “A Sweet Taste Of Death” during the second half.
Really, this is a mixed bag for something that lets on a one-dimensional feel at first. It’s nearly fifty minutes long, which is dangerous territory for the style. If some of the songs were either trimmed or tossed all-together with some touch-up on the vocals, this would have been incredible. Huge fans of the genre should listen to this just to get a feel for the stronger aspects, but casual death metal fans will likely have a tough time getting through it.
Choirs Of The Fallen will be out on March 6th, 2020, through Soulseller records. There are multiple colors of vinyl being pressed, as well as a CD, and you can hear it or find any of those right here.