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Album Review: Dew-Scented’s Intermination is Intolerable

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All the recent talk of branding has led me to wonder why some bands choose to hold on to their names. Yes, maintaining a name means maintaining an established fanbase, and keeping means that the years and effort invested don’t go to perceived “waste,” but it cuts the other way as well: the name Six Feet Under will never lose its rep; most people dismissed Job for a Cowboy years ago despite the fact that the band have grown into a wholly different monster since their deathcore days.

Germany’s Dew-Scented fall into this second category. Vocalist and sole original member Leif Jensen has been gripping tightly to the Dew-Scented name through a long series of lineup changes and average-to-mediocre albums. And here in 2015, on Dew-Scented’s tenth full-length Intermination, one becomes convinced that it might simply have been better for Jensen to abandon that name years ago and open himself up to some new creative possibilities. An album based on a foundation of clichés and bad habits, Intermination checks the boxes then signs off.

You do have to feel a little bad for the band, though. Formed in 1992, Dew-Scented arrived too late to capitalize on the original thrash movement, yet too far too early for the revivalists, timing that led the band to fall into a rut of perceived averageness and irrelevance that was only furthered by their blurry genre classification. Toeing the line between thrash and death, Dew-Scented spent twenty years establishing themselves as one of Europe’s counterparts to Lamb of God alongside bands like The Crown and Legion Of The Damned. Intermination, like most of Dew-Scented’s discography, is rife with blasting At The Gates worship, mid-paced grooves, and technically-minded takes on Slayer riffs. The band are competent, sure. Dew-Scented definitely got an upgrade when they overhauled their lineup in 2012: guitarists Marvin Vriesde and Rory Hansen subvert expectations with some really tricky phrasings, and if anything on this album is truly impressive, it’s the performance of skinsman Koen Herfst. But ultimately, the narrow compositional approach on Intermination is just so familiar that it fails to ever keep us on our toes for long. The album is also terribly flavorless, a fact that’s evident in its tired titles as well as in the groan-inducing clichés used for sound samples (“Affect Gravity,” “Demon Seed”).

It’s true – Dew-Scented have never deeply sinned. They don’t have an Illud Divinum Insanus; they don’t have a Lulu. And considered in a vacuum, Intermination is far from terrible. So when do we give a pass to bands that make the same album year after year, and when do we denounce them? It may seem arbitrary, but the reason here is that Dew-Scented never made a really good record. We demonstrate bands that tend to repeat themselves more leniency for retreading previous paths because those paths have upheld or introduced high standards. But when you get down to it, Dew-Scented never had much intrigue in the first place, and that, more than anything, is why neither Intermination nor their legacy are worth preserving.

Dew-Scented’s Intermination comes out June 30 on Prosthetic Records. You can listen to the track “Affect Gravity” here and pre-order it here.

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