The highly touted Swedish death metal scene of the 1990’s produced some fantastic gems. The atmosphere was of the most creative and boundless kind, everyone was doing their shit full-on and enthusiasm filled the pungent air while everybody was on the hunt for the genre’s Holy Grail. From the acrid fumes rose one amazing band after the other, and there was much rejoicing from the fans: “Whey…” Too bad most of the fans consisted of members of the other bands in the scene, which means the scene did not have huge… tracts of land. Anyway, due to the recognition not being nation-wide for most bands their star of fame imploded like a supernova of feces in the general direction of everyone who missed out on their excellence. Decameron is one of those bands. They did one album, “My Shadow…”, and the quality it sports is enough to tear mighty flesh wounds into most band discographies’ asses and blow off their heads with unholy hand grenades. This record blew my mind like a porn star in the mid-90’s and has only become better over the years, like fine wine made out of elderberries. It’s actually so good you can get drunk by just listening to it. Drunk with euphoria. Now the time has come to dissect this only piece of testament the Decameron corpse left behind – time to open the grave and bring out your dead! Ok, ok, I’ll get on with it…
This album is organic. Everything on this disc sounds so natural it’s scary. Every single note and beat keep the energy driving forward and create just the right atmosphere. Cunningly arranged, mostly melodic yet malignant riffs intermingle with furious and inventive drumming, while passionate barks and shrieks spew out sulfur and despair. We’re talking top-notch melodic death/black with some 80’s metal influences, the same category as for example Dissection, Unanimated and Merciless. Still, Decameron’s fantastic music is something of their very own. Expertly crafted, but with a natural and organic passion that is just beautiful. Actually, that goes for all of the bands mentioned. Still, “My Shadow…” is a one of a kind album. Only minus for the intro track that serves its purpose as mood-builder, but the execution…the skip button is often engaged.
The production is very 1990’s. The mix is a little thin and raw, but it gives the music just the atmosphere it needs. Every instrument is clearly audible and well-balanced in the sound canvas, and with the music itself being so strong, there’s no need for any fancy pansy production effects. It would’ve been interesting to hear this album with more depth to the mix, though – when analyzing it closely it could be considered a bit one-dimensional. Not that I’ll complain about it, I love how it sounds. The snare sound isn’t maybe the most fantastic either, especially during fast parts. An acquired taste.
The focus and center-point of this album is the guitar work. Lots and lots of malicious riffs, with almost all being catchy as hell. The fundament lies in thrash and heavy metal riffs which have been twisted and blighted into hateful, diabolic monsters. Cool and mystic harmonies, asymmetric periods and time signatures, fantastic catchy guitar solos and ever-changing creative arrangements add flair and character, at the same time keeping one’s interest up in the rafters. You don’t wanna miss out on any of this stuff, as it’s all so good and you never know what small difference on some small detail or nuance is put in to tickle your mind and ears.
The vocal delivery is devoted, fervent and fierce. Passionate to the core. You can hear the emotion behind the rasp, and sometimes it breaks up into semi-clear groaning/crooning. The texture of the growls are maybe not the most consistent or powerful, but the pathos they reek of is so convincing that it doesn’t really matter. Some clean melodies, whispers and spoken parts also provide variation. Main vocalist Alexander Losbäck also handles the four-string, and there are a bunch of interesting but still supportive bass lines to be found here. Alex has a keen sense for when to alternate to a higher or lower register. Sometimes he follows the guitars, adding depth or even a harmony to the riffing, while at other times he wanders his own ways. A very varied bass performance for a record in this genre.
The most mindblowing performance is the one provided by Tobbe Kellgren. “My Shadow…” is one of my all-time favorite drumming records. Kellgren has amazingly varied and interesting chops. The fact that he improvised lots of the drumming on this recording is a huge part of why the whole album flows so naturally and has such an organic feel. Slow and doomy stuff, groovy mid-tempo parts, fast double kicks, blasting, you name it and everything sounds killer, and is punctuated with highly inventive fills thrown in a little here and there. Kellgren also likes to sometimes end his fills at unexpected spots, “too early” or “too late”, which adds to the intriguing quality of the arrangements. As said before, one of my favorite drumming records.
The lyrical output is to the point, evil and Christ-hating. Most of the lyrics tackle the subject of personal evolution and rising above everything, deifying oneself in and with darkness, knowledge, and hate. Not the most intricate pieces of text I’ve read but the ideas behind them are good and very well-suited to complement the music, and vice versa.
“My Shadow…” is one of my top five albums of all time. The sheer quality of the material is heightened tenfold with the imaginative arrangements and passionate execution. Rating this album at 110% is as much a no-brainer as Paris Hilton. Even the somewhat sucky intro can’t drop the score to 100%. Oh wait, it did. Fuck.
Alex Losbäck: vocals, bass
Johannes Losbäck: guitars, vocals, lyrics
Johnny Lehto: guitars
Tobias Kellgren: drums
02. Carpe Nocem
03. Our Time Has Come
05. Le Roi Triste
06. The Scar of Damnation
07. Sexual Immortality
09. My Shadow…
10. Prophecy of Life to Come
11. Mistress of Sacrifice