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Review: Hellspawn - The Great Red Dragon
The Great Red Dragon

Label: Wydawnictwo Muzyczne Psycho
Year released: 2012
Duration: 27:31
Tracks: 10
Genre: Death Metal


Review online: May 27, 2012
Reviewed by: Memnarch
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.67/5 (73.33%) (6 Votes)

The Great Red Dragon is the sophomore effort by Polish death metal horde Hellspawn, and if this is anything to go by then they could certainly have a bright future ahead of them. Opting for a more brutal, clinical approach to proceedings than the recent wave of Swedish-influenced acts which currently seem to be in vogue (not that I'm complaining), Hellspawn have a sound that appears somewhat of a consolidation of old school US death metal influences and the rather sleeker veneer of compatriots Vader and Decapitated.

One of the aspects of this release that initially drew my attention was the extremely thick and tangible guitar tone which is heavier than a bus full of Gene Hoglan's. The riffs themselves twist and turn with a crushing, clever groove, convoluting and pulverising a path through Robert's technically proficient, blast strewn brutal drumming and Mariusz's deep set gutturals from which I can certainly derive influences of Dave Vincent. The guitar in general be it the huge riffing or wild soloing is all heavily influenced by Morbid Angel, it has just been polished up a touch.

Speaking of the guitar solos, they're littered all throughout The Great Red Dragon during its brief stay and add a welcome sense of twisted melody and variation to what could otherwise be a rather one dimensional release. Luckily for Hellspawn though they kept their tracks mostly around the three minute mark which was a smart move as this particular strain of death metal is notoriously problematic with bands creating songs which just drag on and on into a horizon of aimless monotony.

The short yet potent bursts of brutality keep the concentration from waning and prevent Hellspawn from ever becoming too stale. Any arguments I have with this release lie solely with the song writing which becomes quite predictable, notably so towards the album's closing stages where the songs sort of just run into one. The musicianship though is ace, amplified by the great clean production job which clearly accentuates each individual instrument yet refrains from dousing the fire which so many ‘modern' production jobs manage to do.

Still, regardless of the slight lack of originality and diversity The Great Red Dragon is a very respectable effort at a style of death metal which more often than not bores me to tears. What it lacks in innovation it more than makes up for in spirit and technique, which is present in abundance. And when it comes down to it, isn't that all that's important? The latest Horrendous album is still by far and large the death metal album to beat this year though; still, fans of Vader, Morbid Angel and Hate Eternal will definitely dig this and should give it a blast.

More about Hellspawn...
Review: There Has Never Been a Son of Me (reviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
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