As I feel like I write in every single metal review I write lately, the metal world is a bizarre place where esoteric fusions of niches and subgenres get all sorts of attention from fans and critics while much of the rest of the music world continues on without anyone being aware that something new is happening.
My understanding is that this is what was happening here: a heretofore purist death metal band embraced blues rock and other more conventional/traditional forms of rock music, thereby creating or helping to create “death ‘n’ roll,” which is apparently a real genre. If I were not a fan of metal this would be too much. I mean, what a niche.
If you don’t listen to extreme metal of any kind, but especially death metal, this record would likely strike you as quite, well, extreme. However, for many people, it’s not extreme enough. That being less extreme is its innovation is either not appealing to these people or something more problematic. As someone who thinks purity in art is bullshit and who would rather listen to something interesting than something which follows genre conventions, I think it is at least interesting on an intellectual level.
Of course it is also pretty heavy, at least in relation to less extreme forms of metal. And that’s generally what I want in my metal – something visceral enough to remind me I’m alive. And it’s played with a fair degree of skill. I’d argue there’s as much skill in something like this – if not more – than in just adhering to death metal conventions. (Not everyone can swing, especially if the pool is metal musicians, especially if that pool is Scandinavian metal musicians.)
The issue for me, as always with this kind of stuff, is how unbelievably niche it is and how they embrace this very specific niche to the exclusion of basically everything else. This record does one unique thing, it does it well but that’s all it does.