HELLSPAWN - The Great Red Dragon (WM PSYCHO - CD 2012)
This is the second full length album from Polish death masters Hellspawn and third recording of theirs, which I had a pleasure to listen to and I must admit it is a real pleasure to be able to observe how the music of this band has been developing and maturing through all these years, since the release of their “Demo 2005”. And the word “maturity” is a key here, I think, as really since the “Child of Hell” CD Hellspawn have grown up and actually managed to fix everything what was wrong with their previous album, so now they appear to be a damn vicious and lethal death metal force. Obviously they still sound very Polish, but that is not an objection, but rather a proof that the scene in this country is like a never ending mine, where one can find really many, many great bands.
When comparing “The Great Red Dragon” to “Child of Hell” I can only point out the positive aspects of Hellspawn’s development and really this new album is much better than the debut. First of all, the music itself has been bettered and as I already pointed it out, it matured. It still is pretty intense, fast and brutal death metal, yeah, but the riffs are just better, there are also more interesting and killer, as well as memorable ideas and motifs, plus I can honestly say that the guitar leads, which are on “The Great Red Dragon” are just excellent. But yeah, the riffs are really great, the music is often very tight and extreme, but still quite memorable, which is a good aspect of “The Great Red Dragon”, as there’s nothing worse if death metal becomes just a mindless brutality, which leads you nowhere… Plus it’s not just a chase with the light all the time through the album… Sure, the fast playing is still dominating the most part of Hellspawn’s music, but luckily this time the band managed to vary their songs, using the killer, slow parts more often and this diversity made a very good effect. “The Great Red Dragon” is really interesting, it is very intense and yet, it is has enough space to really catch the attention and that is excellent thing. More so, I must point out that finally Hellspawn has achieved a good production; the sound on “The Great Red Dragon” is so great. I mean the lack of really killer and energetic sound was probably the main failure on “Child of Hell”; meanwhile “The Great Red Dragon” sounds crispy, but brutal and still very powerful. I really like the guitar tone, as well as the way the vocals have been mixed and performed. Actually I think I like everything about this album and since I started to listen to it last week, I still enjoy the music a lot…
And an extra word should be said about the artwork for the album and the lyrics. I like the fact that Hellspawn putted Polish translations of their texts and I must say that the Polish version of the lyrics from “The Great Red Dragon” are really, really good, maybe even better than the English ones; but of course the band growls the English words only and that is actually good, as I’m not a big fan of Polish lyrics in death metal generally. So, if I can say anything for the end then it would be just a word of praise and a total recommendation of this album for everyone, who’s into this style of music.
Standout tracks: “Word Becomes Flesh”, “Revelation of the Great Red Dragon”
Final rate: 83/100