Album Review: Wombbath – “Downfall Rising”

Wombbath - Downfall Rising

My, my, it’s been a long time since we’ve heard from Swedish death metallers Wombbath. A full 22 years after their last full length, the band’s come back from the dead with their second full-length, Downfall Rising. While the album has its moments, it’s mainly textbook Swedeath. The immediately noticeable crunchy guitar sound and traces of doom in some of the songs are nice, but ultimately don’t prop this thing up enough to compare to the work of some of their countrymen.

Downfall Rising may sound good initially, but with each successive listen, it grows more and more tiresome. Take the hideous “Intro” — totally unnecessary. I get the point of the spiraling sounds of a downfall and screams coming in from all angles, but at the same time, we already know this is death metal so, do we need that? No. (The same can be said of the horrendous closer, “Abandoned Furthermore,” whose symphonic passages offer a thematic link back to that totally superfluous intro.) Oh, and then there’s the hardcore breakdown plopped right in the middle of the otherwise-solid “Fall of the Weak”.

But it’s not a total loss. “Under Apokalypsens Svarta Vingar” is an early highlight, opening with a rhythmic mix of blasts and double kicks before then giving way to the inherent Swedeath groove. An exceptional solo ties the two halves of the track together and the back end returns to the double kicks and downright dirty sounding guitars. Later, on “Putrid and Bound (By the Seed of Satan),” the band leans heavily on a crunchy, doomy feel, packing this track densely with guitar and bass sounds fighting for supremacy. Drummer Henrik Åberg’s work is the centerpiece, though; he switches time swiftly and effortlessly between all-out blasts and painfully slow dirge tempos. It almost sounds like what would happen if Dismember and Jungle Rot produced some sort of Satanic offspring.

Understand, folks: I seriously wanted to like this album, and I get the fact that Wombbath are coming back from a long layoff and wanted to come out all guns blazing. But when two tracks out of eight are complete wastes, and there are only really two others that are remotely memorable, the album starts to feel like a burden. (So forget about repeat listening.) I was hoping this outing might have a chance to surpass their previous full-length, Internal Caustic Torments; instead it just falls flat.

-Josh


Downfall Rising will be available August 21 on Dark Descent Records. For more information on Wombbath, visit the band’s Facebook page.

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