Released: 2017, Black Bow Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
If practice makes perfect, then British deathsters Subservience have certainly gotten their work in. Over the last seven years or so, the band have built up a catalog that includes a demo, a split EP and three self-released EPs.
Now, after all that, and a few lineup changes that apparently are still on-going as it would seem they need a drummer, Subservience have finally hooked up with a label and are delivering their first full album. They certainly hit the ground running with Forest of the Impaled, a hard-charging, corrosive set that sounds something like a hybrid of The Haunted and Amon Amarth. It’s streamlined but still epic, and always vicious, and its confident presentation makes it all the more so.
The album roars to life with the frantic, Swe-deathy buzz of “In Depravity They Dwell” and never looks back. The guitaring throughout has that classic Black and Decker tone, and is rife with distortion, but the band muscles up with propulsive tempos and bruising grooves to give the album a welcome thrashiness.
Forest can be as concussive as it is relentless, especially on more herky-jerky tracks like the mammoth “Desperation,” but Subservience aren’t afraid to paint outside the lines at times as well. “Descend Into Despair” makes for a truly grand finale with its piano intro and epic construction. And the galloping “The Consummation” has an inviting majestic sweep that cuts through its otherwise brutal sheen.
The band seem to have matured a bit in the lyrical department over the years, too. Despite its gnarly sounding title, and frank cover art, Subservience have stepped away from the obvious grotesquerie of, say, 2013’s Ripped In Half EP. Well, not all the way, as “A Taste For Violence” would indicate, but tracks like “Entity of Indifference” and “Despair” offer headier fare, grim though it still may be thanks to frontman Dan Lofthouse’s imposing roar.
Forest of the Impaled might not, in fact, be perfect. But it is a solid, seasoned first full-length by a band that are stepping up its game each time out, which bodes well for the future.