By Dr. Abner Mality

I kind of like never knowing exactly what I’m going to get from a band. So many, even very successful ones, keep in the comfort zone and play the hits. It’s never been that way with CONVULSE. These Finnish chameleons are always in the process of tweaking their sound. Since returning from their long layoff, they’ve given us straight Finnish death metal on “Evil Prevails” and a more progressive version of that on “Cycle of Revenge”. I’m happy to say that “Deathstar” is better than both and is the kind of constantly morphing, phantasmagoric effort that they’ve always been capable of.

No two tracks are the same here. The metal is strong, but so are the progressive and pure rock touches. It makes for an intriguing listen.  The longest song “Extreme Dark Light” opens the album and is almost pure 70’s prog to start, with organ and melodic guitar, but it builds and becomes gradually heavier throughout the song and Rami Jamsa’s harsh whispering vocals bring a touch of extremity to the whole thing. “Whirlwind” has one hell of a grooving, chunky thrust and Rami reverts to his super deep inhaled death grunts here; one of my favorite songs. “The Summoning” chugs along with mid-paced heft, but the vocals are more of a post-punk kind of croon. Jamsa’s lead work is also extremely tasteful and never obtrusive.

“Chernobyl” reveals more of the psychedelic and melodic side of CONVULSE. An album full of these tracks would have been on the soft side, but the placement of this one helps the flow of the album. “We Sold Our Soul for Rock N’ Roll” (hmmm, wonder where I heard that before) brings the glorious death n roll style of the classic “Reflections” album back to the forefront...short but sweet!  The title track brings a mix of “pure” heavy metal and melodic death with some peaks and valleys while “Make Humanica Great Again” is a kick-ass puzzle of a cut with death metal, prog and death n roll all on display and some of the best lead jamming of the album. “Light My Day” is diamond hard yet smooth, with the vocals at their most gruesome. The rollercoaster of an album concludes with a a brief ballad, “The End”, where clean vocals prevail.

Despite its wanderings, “Deathstar” is a remarkably focused and flowing record that never gives in to excess baggage. Those who want the 500th blasting old school death metal album of the year will find plenty of boilerplate bands to satisfy their craving; CONVULSE is not for them. This band is for those who like to stretch and explore while still keeping some metal in the mix.