Mercenary Musik / World War III Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Okay, I admit it. For as much as I have loved heavy metal since I was 14 years old, and as much as I listen to thrash and death metal these days, sometimes it just seems like all this stuff sounds the same... especially the death metal. You know the formula: a thousand beats a minute, drum work that sounds like the poor guy is having a seizure behind the kit, crunching guitars and vocal grunts that you'd need the Rosetta Stone to decipher. Don't get me wrong, I still love metal, and I still like listening to thrash and death metal, but I was starting to get a little worried about the genre.

The last bunch of discs I've listened to have caused me to be born again. We talked about one of them yesterday with Bludgeon's debut release. Now, Sweden's Diabolical help to solidify my new-found faith in death metal, with their full-length debut my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Synergy. It's similar to a lot of metal you might be used to, but it's much different in many other ways. Lead guitarist Vidar W. and crew throw several different styles at the listener, but they make it all sound so cohesive that it's downright scary.

If you thought that metal this heavy had to be played at lightning-quick speed - well, there's some of that there, but Diabolical prove that even a slower beat mixed in with the fast tempos works just as well. The group (and I'm hoping I've put this together right, culling the lineup from All-Music Guide) - Vidar W., guitarist H. Carlsson, vocalist M. Odling, and bassist/drummer (yes, you read that right) L. Soderberg - challenges the standard way listeners think about thrash metal, and damned if they don't make a convincing argument in their favor.

Tracks like "Suicidal Glory," "Caged Wrath" and "Drowned In Blood" all demonstrate that Diabolical has worked extremely hard to get to the point they're at, and that they've earned all the respect they've gotten in Europe. ( Synergy was released in America back in October 2001 - six months after they got it on the other side of the big drink.) Diabolical has everything going in their favor - solid songwriting (even if I'm still at a loss to describe what Odling is screaming about), mastery of the music and a top-notch production. (Plus, any time you can land album cover artiste Joe Petgano to do your artwork, it's a master coup.)

The only concern I have for Diabolical is that they may have set the bar too high for themselves. I know there is already a second full-length disc out in Europe (and, if they copy-protect it here in the States like they did in Europe, we won't touch it), but Diabolical is going to have a difficult time living up to the expectations they have created thanks to this album. Can they do it? I don't doubt it... but it is a tough thing for any group to do.

Synergy is the kind of album that is great to put on when you're feeling pissed at the world - and it will end up making you feel great. Diabolical is undoubtedly one of the more exciting bands I've heard come down the pipe in a while, and I'll be expecting great things from this group for many years to come.

Rating: A-

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© 2002 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mercenary Musik / World War III Records, and is used for informational purposes only.