1. Exordium 2. Vanish Away 3. Final Warning 4. That's Why I Despise You 5. The Fraud 6. Into the Arms of Misery 7. Perdition For All 8. Now or Never 9. Aftermath 10. Everything Undone 11. Contradictions 12. Retain the Scars 13. Exitus
With 'Incinerate' as their most high-profile release to date, Germany's Dew-Scented reload their true-blue blunderbuss for the seventh time. Although this long-standing troop has been making the rounds both in the Fatherland and overseas for many years now, only with 2002's 'Inwards' did they receive international acclaim. It was two albums later, when 'Issue VI' rolled around, that the band officially hit it big.
That is, as 'big' as a modern thrash-oriented band not named The Haunted (or originally hailing from the 1980's) can be in today's market. Since its golden years, thrash has become a bet of long odds-as an incorporated element into another metal genre it almost always succeeds, but when performed on its own it often is panned as passe or a been-done. And, indeed, though it would be misleading to call Dew-Scented's back catalogue innovative, their constant, dependable presence marks them as one of the few who still protect the rather tenuous light of thrash's torch.
The band themselves-i.e. vocalist and founder Leif Jensen-have admitted that in retrospect 'Issue VI' wasn't quite the album they wanted it to be, and consequently, 'Incinerate' is the band's attempt to conjoin some of the successful experiments from 'Issue VI' with more concert-friendly, straightforward thrashers. (And in fact, it sounds as though the band have taken some motives from 'Issue VI' and directly reprised them-'Vanish Away's alternating riff and 'Rituals of Time', for instance.)
And for the most part, they have succeeded. The guitar duo of Hendrik and Flo have one of modern metal's best synergies and 'Incinerate' is packed with their tight riffing interplay and surprisingly adventurous solos. Complimenting their efforts on 'Perdition For All' are Gus G of Firewind and Jeff Waters of Annihilator, each of whom lay down blistering solos of their own. Leif Jensen's vocals are as leather-lunged as ever, and in his final performance for the band Uwe Werning turns in a thrash drumming clinic.
And yet, curiously enough, despite their 'return to form' mindset, 'Incinerate' is arguably even more experimental than 'Issue VI'. The latter is undoubtedly the more technical of the two, but the wild abandon of this album's solos, its guest appearances, spoken word passages ('Everything Undone'), and intro/outro tracks, all make 'Incinerate' comes across as the less conventional of the two.
This approach is successful overall, but not always. Cuts like 'That's Why I Despise You' and 'The Fraud' are standout headbangers that match rather basic structures with clever, classically styled hooks. However, other songs like the plodding duet 'Retain The Scars' (despite Mille of Kreator's presence) swing the pendulum a little too far towards simplicity and end up being yawners.
When balanced out, the exemplary outweighs the forgettable, and 'Incinerate' is ultimately a success, though not quite for the reasons Dew-Scented may have intended. For those looking for modern thrash at its stripped-down essence, this is not the album to choose. However, 'Incinerate' does convincingly demonstrate that that neither thrash nor Dew-Scented are stagnant, which, in the bigger picture, is the more significant point to make. Defined in the past by their resilient consistency, modern Dew-Scented is boldly beginning to prove that the stereotypes of 'carrying the torch' and 'pushing the envelope' of a genre are not mutually exclusive, despite all appearances to the contrary.
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