By Dr. Abner Mality

With "Imago", Mordbrand takes a big step forward and vaults over the legion of typical Swedish death metal retro-nauts. This is really top-notch stuff that comes as close as anybody I've heard to being the modern day Dismember. They have the necessary combination of bone-breaking heaviness, eerie atmosphere and fine-tuned soncraft to be mentioned in that rarefied company. I would even rank this above the recent album from Vanhelgd, which was a very meaty slab.

Yes, the necessary "chainsaw" guitar sound is here and very brutal it is, too, but the careful listener can tell that the "buzz" does not overwhelm the essential melody and structure of the songs. Mordbrand can perform at total blast speed ("We Are The Myriads"), a slow and creepy crawl ("Bastion of Blood") or any combination thereof ("That Which Crawls", "Sever The Limbs That Grace"). The ultimate expression of Mordbrand's power is "Hoarding the Grotesque"...what a beautifully constructed cut this is, with original and amazing riffs that are pure Swedish death metal. Dismember or Entombed would have been proud to have written a song like this in their heyday. The band also has a very potent weapon with the grim vocals of Per Boder, which are perfectly attuned for morbid death metal.

At 33 minutes, "Imago" is quite short. That's the only beef I've got with it. When a band is rolling as hot as Mordbrand is here, a couple more songs wouldn't have hurt at all. This is the best "classic" sounding Swedish DM album I've heard so far in 2014.