Susperia

Predominance

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Take your regulation black metal template: skidding double-bass blastbeats, shrieking demon vocals, walls of keyboards...the whole nine yards. Now strip away the keyboards and the orchestral frills, add generous helpings of 80s style thrash guitar and what have you got? Susperia, that's what. Susperia has impeccable black metal pedigree -- the lineup features members of Old Man's Child, Satyricon, and Dimmu Borgir -- and Predominance was produced at the legendary Abyss Studios with the equally legendary Peter Tagtgren supervising. If any black metal band knows the importance of being dark, grim, and "true," it'd be this one, but Susperia would much rather be trendy and play blackened thrash. For a genre in which authenticity counts for everything, that's a brave move -- or a stupid one, depending on how old school you are. The good news is, the experiments on Predominance work most of the time. The icy, Nordic sweep of trad black metal may be missing, but there's plenty of guitar mayhem to compensate. This is a tight, solidly constructed -- if a little too obviously slick -- album and a decidedly auspicious debut. The prominence of the guitars in the mix and the simplicity of the riffs can make the songs sound a little rudimentary at times, but there's a fair amount of variety in terms of tempos and vocal textures (lead singer Athera is good with both clean and growl formats), and overall, Predominance rewards repeat listens. It may be tempting to dismiss Susperia as sell-outs, trying to serve up something for everyone and pandering to genre newbies, but there's no denying this is a well-executed, professional debut from a talented band.

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