OK, so this may be a cliche, but what is in the water over in Scandinavia, because they keep up giving birth to some of the most savage and awesome heavy metal bands. Whether it's the whole new blackened punk/hardcore scene that is engulfing Norway or the constant stream of Swedish death metal that appear, it's huge!
The focus of this post is a death metal band called Ending Quest, from Stockholm. Ending Quest are made up of Stefan Nordström on guitar/vocals, Gustav Gunnarsson on guitars and Jonas Bergkvist on Bass. Unfortunately, as I write this, I am unsure of who is their drummer. Both Stefan and Jonas are members of fellow Swedish death metallers Desolator.
So onto the bands 2011 demo, Vlad Tepes. First Track, End This Mortal World, starts with feedback and then kicks into a slow, deep riff. Then the band gets straight into the faster stuff, with wailing guitars and blastbeats. The low roars of vocalist Stefan add to the foreboding sense of evil. The production is what you'd expect from a demo, but you can here the instruments clearly and the song is played with an energetic urgency. Title track, Vlad Tepes, starts where track one left off, with more blastbeats and some subtle
Slayer influences in there. The guitars driving all the while and the solo wailing like
it was played by Kerry King himself. The use of more melodic death metal touches in the song add an accessibility to the music, but not enough to dilute the overall appeal. Vlad Tepes goes straight into third track, Butcherknife Encounter (great song title!), and the pace is immediate. The band don't let up and the momentum serves them well. This is the sort of music that will do really well in a sweaty, basement club. The thrash metal elements to this song show the band have more strings to their musical blow. The middle of the track is made more atmospheric by some nice, but evil melody while the use of buzzsaw riffage
and a great rhythm section drive the music on. The band employ what is almost a breakdown towards the end of the song, but it only serves to make the bludgeoning worse (in a good way!). Coffin Worm is more of the same. The twin guitar attack is used in perfect harmony, adding good old-school influences to the bands sound. The song gets more chaotic towards it's closing bars, with wailing guitar, urgent blasts and more low, fast vocals. The final track by the band is Dark Immersion. It begins with what is almost a black metal scream, before picking up the mantle once more and blasting forth.
The band slow things down part way through and the drums are almost grooving along to the metal riffs. The slower riffs the band employ are even more evil than when they are blasting and add nice variation to their songs. They still employ Slayer influences within the music but are able to add their own take to the death metal blueprint. This is the longest track on the demo, weighing in at over 5 minutes, with a great melodic guitar section which brings to mind, bands like Dark Tranquility and Insomnium. The next two tracks are covers, starting with Scream Bloody Gore by Death. They are obviously one of the bands main influences. They give the cover their trademark sound and it makes you think about what the demo's from the original Swedish death metal scene would have sounded like in the early days (well those who were not around then, like me, anyway), and ending with Born For Burning by Bathory. Again, the band adding a modern twist to a song by one of the main influences of modern death/black metal. Pure evil!
Ending Quest are definitely a band to keep track of. If they keep producing demo's and records of this quality, they will be bothering the upper echelons of the death metal hierarchy very soon.
If you want to check out the demo, go to the following link to download it - Ending_Quest__Vlad_Tepes.zip. Also, go and visit Ending Quest on their Myspace page at - http://www.myspace.com/endingquest.