26 Jun 2017

Puteraeon - The Empires of Death (Self-released 2017)

Puteraeon is a death metal band in the classic Swedish tradition, a genre which has had a long-enduring resurgence. In fact, such a long one that I refuse to call it a trend or revival, Swedish OSDM is obviously here to stay whether you like it or not. After three full-length albums, with one clearly following the line of the other, Puteraeon hits us with an EP containing their strongest material to date. 
Puteraeon has managed to put out three strong albums, and in quite rapid succession at that. If you count their demo releases (which you should), which are long enough to be regarded as full length albums as well, Puteraeon has put out an staggering amount of songs between the years of 2008 and 2014. To my surprise though, things went silent for three years after the release of "The Crawling Chaos". The band later announced in 2017 that they were going to self-release their new material, and in the format of a thee track digital EP, an unexpected turn of events if anything. And now with the announcement of a physical version of the EP on the horizon (only vinyl is real!), it's high time to talk about this EP.
That these guys love for all things H.P. Lovecraft shouldn't have passed under anyone's radar, this time the man himself even adorns the cover art. Jonas Lindblood's well of HPL-lyrics seems to inexhaustible and by this time I would have a hard time imagining a Puteraeon that didn't worship at the grave of the man at night.
Speaking of the grave or Mr. Lovecraft, "Providence" is the opening track of this EP. Tastefully named after the quote "I am providence" which embellishes his headstone. Puteraeon has always had very strong productions, and to my surprise that has not changed here. Even though they this time around employed the reigning world champion of overly compressed- and ear numbing productions, Dan Swanö, instead of Andy LaRocque who has worked on previous albums. This song is extremely well put together, and no part lingers for too long before changing it up. Blastbeats are intertwined with melodic breaks and chugging guitars in a way seems very thought through. One listen to this song often results in at least two more in order to hear your favorite parts again, the true mark of a great track. I do somewhat miss Jonas's deep and guttural voice though. The change in vocal style was in my understanding due to his old approach being hard to replicate live, and I can't argue with that reasoning. The vocals are more articulated here than ever before, and in the end the change is probably for the better. After all, Jonas has lost none of his vigor while bellowing over the epic guitar breaks in the middle of this song.
"At the Altars" follows in a slightly more melodic fashion with the guitars of aforementioned Jonas and guitarist Rune Foss harmonize skillfully and just the right amount without going overboard. The song also features a well played solo, echoing over a cavernous riff-landscape. While "Providence" is a swirling vortex of madness (in the best possible way), "At the Altars" is a more catchy affair with parts that get stuck in your head and vocal lines you can anticipate to scream along to at a live show. As with the previous track they change things up at just the right moment to keep your interest peaked, and this goes to show that you can still write this type of death metal as long as you're smart about it. Good musicians will still write fantastic songs even if it's a genre that's been done several times before.
Closing song "Epitaph" opens with a blast, in the most literal sense, quickly changing between it and the most classic of Swedish guitar rhythms which continues into the verses. And by this point drummer Anders Malmström has proved that he has more than mastered everything that is to be expected by a death metal drummer, though it would be nice to hear some other form of blastbeat other than the classic grind here and there. This is a short, and to the point, track that is over before you know what hit you. A perfect closing number that leaves you hungry for more.
It was a great relief the hear this EP having as good a production as it actually does, the guitars are warm and powerful, the drums sound very organic instead of the castanet-sounding kicks I was fearing. One note I'd like to add is that I would have preferred to have the bass louder in the mix, but that is something I could say about just about any release nowadays. The whole sound has a lot of air and room to breathe even though all instruments are going full throttle basically all the way through.  
Puteraeon seem to have gained a lot from taking some extra time to refine the material before release, and after all three years is not an atrocious time to wait for quality. If we're lucky they have more tracks in the bank already, and maybe the next release will be an offering with a longer runtime. Either way, I'll be happy to hear more. If you don't like this, you probably don't like death metal, and if you're tired of the genre, you probably weren't that into it to begin with. The ghost of HPL bestows "The Empires of Death" with: 8,6/10

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