Maim are likely to need little introduction to fans of death metal and in particular the unique Swedish scene. Formed in Atviaberg, Sweden in 2006, Maim aimed to recreate the raw feel and sound of such legendary forebears as Grave, Death and Autopsy. Those familiar with their previous releases (From the Womb to the Tomb, Deceased to Exist and EP No Posers Please) will agree that they have done a fine job, creating a short back catalogue that stands up well in such company and which has helped the band develop a loyal and devoted fan base.
Following several line-up changes and a small hiatus, the band have slimmed down to a two-piece with original members Christian Sandberg on guitar and vocal duties and Henric Ottoson on drums. Ornaments of Severity represents the band’s third full length record and their first since 2011’s EP.
Ornaments picks up where their previous releases left off, delivering eleven tracks of classic catchy death metal. Following atmospheric intro “Caves of Echoing Madness“, the record launches into the real meat and bones with second track “Coffin Gloryhole” demonstrating the band’s knack of delivering some of the best bits of that dirty Swedish sound, the buzzing guitars and grave robbed vocals, with some fantastic mid-paced stomping riffs that will have the purists like me begging for more.
As the journey develops, we aren’t let down and the record offers more of the same. Album highlight “With Nails and Bolts” demonstrates this, aptly launching with a lumbering doom laden intro which then develops into a prehistorically heavy, fist pumping riff which I still have ringing in my head. There’s plenty more craft like this on this album with “The Judas Cradle”, “The Gnarling Dead”, and final track “Sepulchral Haze”, being particular standouts.
The band mix things up well with a good blend of tempos from the more formulaic balls-out archetypal freneticism of the genre to more mid-paced and slower doomy sections which show the band at their groovy and heavy best. There’s also a couple of instrumentals thrown in showing the guys aren’t afraid of further experimentation.
Soundwise, the band clearly borrow some of the best bits from the genre that inspires them and you can also hear influence from the likes of Celtic Frost in some of the neolithic riffs to Slayer (think Hell Awaits era) in some of the atmospheric and layered guitar composition. The drum work is also really good and I love the use of the ride cymbal throughout which really helps to accentuate some of the memorable guitar riffs.
My only slight issue with the sound is that of it’s general quality. Whether or not this is as a result of the production process or the fact the band are now just a two-piece it’s hard to tell, but in the end the sound is somewhat “thin” at times and as a result I fear some of the heaviness and clarity that the excellent songcraft deserves is lost.
In summary, Ornaments of Severity is a welcome return for the these guys. It’s a solid death metal platter and a must listen to lovers of that classic Swedish sound.
Ornaments of Severity is out 9 June on Soulseller Records.