H.P. Lovecraft-inspired death metal isn't exactly a new concept: Trey Azagthoth, guitarist of Morbid Angel, and who wrote the genre's ABCs — see Altars of Madness, Blessed Are the Sick and Covenant — crafted a pseudonym inspired by one of the cosmic horror author's Outer Gods, while Canadian void masters Auroch have explicitly called their shadowy, unpredictable music "Lovecraftian death metal." But when Tomas Lindberg, one of Swedish metal's most prominent and prolific vocalists, is joined by similarly capable countrymen and collaborators who've done time in the Crown, Disfear, God Macabre, Skitsystem, Edge of Sanity and the Haunted, you pay attention.
Of the many bands whose lineups he's graced, Lindberg's new endeavour, the Lurking Fear, bears the most resemblance to Grotesque, the group with whom he rose to prominence. The band's goal of making absolutely primal death metal on Out of the Voiceless Grave brings out a rabid ferocity in Lindberg's vocals, and keeps the licks lean and songs slender overall.
Though similar in concept to Bloodbath — seasoned metal vets wanting to pay homage to the death metal they grew up on — the Lurking Fear fall victim to something Akerfeldt and company didn't: The fact that, once you've been outside the box, it's hard to fit neatly back in. Removing combined decades of songwriting lessons and prowess is hard without leaving some residue, as evidenced by the beginning of "The Infernal Dread" and "Teeth of the Dark Plains," which approximate the proto-melodic death metal of At the Gates' Terminal Spirit Disease.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. Falling between that release and the old-school influences they claim, the band create the perfect blend of hooks, in both the musical and hang-a-carcass-in-a-slaughterhouse senses. "Vortex Spawn" kicks things off in the vein of Vader, while its followup, "The Starving Gods of Old," brings to mind grindcore originators Repulsion in its frantic back-and-forth. The influence of Death's Leprosy era abounds, both in terms of songwriting and production values (raw, yet still masterfully clear), while the band also worship at the altar of Possessed's Seven Churches.
The Lurking Fear fall somewhere between the old school they evoke and the new school for which they helped write the curriculum. But then, who really cares what era this is closest to when it's ultimately from the school of death metal, a topic on which these five are more than well-versed? (Century Media)