One Man Army and the Undead Quartet

21st Century Killing Machine

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Vocalist Johan Lindstrand must have felt he had a something to prove following the rather disrespectful way in which he was fired and rehired by former band the Crown, because his subsequent project, One Man Army and the Undead Quartet, delivered one hell of a debut album in 2006's 21st Century Killing Machine. Yes, opener "Killing Machine" holds the listener in suspense for almost two minutes of indistinct riffing, but as soon as Lindtstrand starts warming up his terrifying death grunt, and then pushes an already well-established mastery of death-thrash vocalizing beyond his previous limitations, so too do his cohorts keep pace. With lead guitarist Mikael Lagerblad (an absolute monster himself, dealing out leads at once technically dazzling, lyrically memorable, and perfectly suited to the furious mayhem raging behind him) driving their charge, the Undead Quartet continually change up the music's rhythmic and melodic mechanisms to give instant impact to standout songs such as "No Apparent Motive," "Hell Is for Heroes," and "When Hatred Comes to Life." Even their less successful efforts -- "Behind the Church" and the undead singalong "Branded by Iron" -- don't completely disappoint, paving the way for blistering romps like "So Grim So True So Real" and the indicatively named "Bulldozer Frenzy" to recall and even rival the Crown's best work. In sum, an excellent first salvo from a once overlooked vocalist, backed by a promising new band fit to challenge the best contenders within the Scandinavian extreme metal throng.

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