Not Dead Yet
Nuclear Blast Records, 2000
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/04/2000
I'm really starting to get worried about the state of heavy metal.
On average, I listen to about 10 discs a week from all sorts of metal bands. Some of these I listen to for review purposes; others, I listen to just for personal enjoyment. But the more I listen to, especially when it comes to new releases, the more I'm finding myself -- well, bored.
Sweden's Raise Hell is a prime example of this trend. Their latest album, Not Dead Yet, isn't bad by any stretch of the word. But this quartet don't seem to be interested in breaking any new ground genre-wise, though it's my understanding this disc is a turning point for the band musically. But don't be surprised if you listen to this and think, "Been there, done that."
At first glance, there really isn't much to get excited about by this quartet. The two-guitar attack of Jonas Nilsson (who is also the vocalist) and Torstein Wicksberg doesn't quite have the bite that would make you think you were listening to something special, and Niklas Sjostrom's bass and Dennis Ekdahl's drum work are okay.
There are a few moments of brightness in the songs themselves. Tracks like "Back Attack," "User Of Poison" and "Devilyn" tend to suggest that there might be more to this band than a quick glance would give credit to. But while you might not be able to specifically name any one particular band, Raise Hell does themselves a disservice by molding their sound like that of hundreds of metal bands who came before them.
The album's closer, "Soul Collector," is the track that holds the most promise for the band. A track that gives more than enough room to comfortably grow in the development of the track, it also serves as the cruelest trick, sucking the listener in just as the album comes to an end.
Maybe part of the problem is that Raise Hell isn't quite used to writing songs that don't follow the strict pattern of death metal. Not Dead Yet is a tentative first step towards broadening those horizons -- which could easily explain why there is an air of familiarity around these songs. But with the expectations that some people have from Raise Hell, it could easily be hoped that they are working on mastering this musical twist, and will be ready to blow peoples' doors off the next time around.
Until that happens, Not Dead Yet is an okay listen, but instead of holding out a hope for things to come, it instead dares to suggest that metal is dangerously close to getting its wheels stuck in the mud it created. All it would take to get traction back is for a little personality to be injected into the formula. Here's hoping that happens next time.