I must admit to being rather unfamiliar with south coast death heads Subservience but when their debut LP Forest Of The Impaled landed at Moshville Towers, the catchy title and gloriously old school Scooby-Doo-esque cover (well, the one after the watershed), screamed “listen to me”.
Subservience hail from Sussex and have quickly built a reputation as modern UK death metal standard-bearers and deliverers of some of the most fearsome heavy live shows this side of the wall. Both have led the band to being rewarded with festival stints and slots on some impressive tours over recent years, all the while helping build a loyal and growing fan base.
My first impressions of the record were very much that the music matches that of the old school title and cover art. From the opening strains of the excellent “In Depravity They Dwell”, the buzzing/dirty twin guitar attack, brutal blasting beats, and devastatingly catchy riff breakdowns are reminiscent of early Entombed/At The Gates and UK forefathers Bolt Thrower in equal measure. Thankfully, this glorious opener is a mere taster and the album builds crushingly to deliver a delectable platter of putrid morsels from the monolithic Celtic Frost/inspired riffage on “Desperation” and down-tuned behemoth “Entity of Indifference” to the more brutal attack of “A Taste for Violence” and penultimate track “The Consummation”.
While the band clearly borrow some of the best bits from genre progenitors, they add plenty of their own touches and craft to demonstrate that they are far from a purely indulgent tribute band. A fine example of this is the bands twin vocal style displayed on several tracks, offering a frontline guttural assault backed by higher pitched screams giving these songs a more haunting almost black metal vibe. Equally, the use of guitar fazers, twin guitar harmonies, and twisted lead work lift some of the music at times to an altogether more ethereal plane.
The musicianship on display is exemplary and belies the band’s relative youth. The polished production further helps to demonstrate this and is crisp enough to accentuate the band’s talents without losing any of their brutal heaviness.
All in, Forest Of The Impaled is an excellent full length debut from these guys which manages to capture some of that old school magic while remaining more relevant than ever. I will be sure to follow the band’s progress from here and if the rumours are true and they can deliver anything like the ferocity and heaviness of this record live, they are on my must-see list.
Forest Of The Impaled is out 11 August on Black Bow Records.