Dead Harvest by This Ending
Release date : January 2009
Reviewed by Eric Stephens
In June 2007, it was reported that the Stockholm, Sweden based This Ending was penning material in support of a sophomore album. The group had had existed in a previous incarnation as A Canorous Quintet, and subsequently The Plague (but were forced to shed this moniker due to legal reasons). Via Metal Blade Records, inaugural full length Inside the Machine was released during December 2006. Amongst This Ending's lineup, current or past members of the following feature; Amon Amarth, Guidance of Sin, October Tide, Niden Div. 187 and Sins of Omission, amongst others. The outfit's sophomore album was tentatively slated for issue in 2008, the song titles “Dead Harvest” and “Instigator of Dead Flesh” being unveiled in December 2007. On March 14th, 2008, This Ending witnessed its live premiere in Stockholm, and two new tracks were performed: “Parasites” and “Deathtrade”. Later that month, the album's title was revealed to be Dead Harvest. Once again, the act recorded at Stockholm's Offbeat Studio, and guitarist Linus Nirbrant helmed production yet again. Also, Fredrik Andersson (Amon Amarth) had laid down drums. Ultimately, two months were spent at Offbeat Studio.
A May update disclosed the fact that rhythm guitars had been recorded, but technical difficulties had delayed Dead Harvest's progress. Over a two day period that month, This Ending shot a music video in support of “Parasites” at two different locations with director Marcus CF. Tinnerholm. The inaugural location happened to be Sweden's first nuclear reactor, built in the 1950's below Stockholm, and long since decommissioned. The second location happened to be a studio, where green screen shots were cut using CGI. In August, This Ending stated that the album had been mixed and mastered during the early summer, but they weren't satisfied with the eventual results. Therefore, the group opted to remix and remaster the album. In mid November, Dead Harvest's track listing was unveiled. Designed by guitarist Leo Pignon, the album's artwork additionally surfaced. The full length was slated for release on January 30th, 2009 in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy; and February 2nd, 2009 in the rest of Europe via Metal Blade Records. Later that month, a fifty-one second video teaser in support of the album materialized. During mid December, two videos boasting footage from Dead Harvest's recording sessions surfaced. Later that December, “Parasites” was made available for streaming via This Ending's official MySpace page. In mid January 2009, “Parasites”'s music video surfaced, and the track “Deathtrade” was made available for free download via Metal Blade Records' website one week later.
Should Dead Harvest's material supply any indication, then the fact that This Ending garnered high profile support slots under their previous incarnation (with the likes of At the Gates, Dissection, Hypocrisy and Edge of Sanity) isn't surprising. Nirbrant's production is subpar, but was perhaps intentionally employed to promote a live ambience - when featuring each and every member, the material seems slightly distorted, and crowded.
Dead Harvest doesn't seemingly possess a crisp sound, yet nonetheless executes a great, sonically raw Death Metal assault. Spontaneously however, the title cut employs an almost respectable sonic mixture mostly absent elsewhere upon the album. At this very moment roughly, the album's sound engineer seemingly woke up, as Mårten Hansen's growling Death vocals suddenly dominate the machine gun drum beats, and the distorted, driving guitars. Upon each and every track, Fredrik Andersson unyieldingly attacks through double bass, and wrist wielding Thrash pummels. It feels as though Dead Harvest's drum components never lose pace, and “Deathtrade” is one such moment which illustrates this. Throughout the album, the guitars maintain a grinding mid tempo riff, and this strikes a splendid balance with the pacy drums. Vocally speaking, “Instigator of Dead Flesh” provides a defining moment, its cryptic Death growls occasionally joined by a menacing chant within the background. What causes Dead Harvest to be continually enthralling is the fact that driving beats lead a charge of grinding Metal riffs, riffs teamed against strategic time changes and vocals seemingly lifted straight from a dark crypt.
Certain aspects of Dead Harvest's sound, when aired through speakers, leaves one to wonder as to whether the blame lies with the album's production, or the fact that the record was downloaded via Metal Blade's digital Ipool system. Looking past such issues, not much regarding Dead Harvest, and This Ending's musical ability, can be criticised. Amon Amarth's slight influence is evident, something This Ending couldn't refute in light of the fact that the group's lineup features Amon Amarth drummer Andersson. Genuinely insane in terms of speed and insanity, the drum contributions even outshine the guitar parts at specific moments. Personally speaking, it's extremely difficult to believe how clean and richly blended the title cut is, particularly when critiqued against its fellow numbers. Listening to Dead Harvest supplies a fresh air of Death Metal, something which various territories can benefit from.