I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Detest - "The End of All Ends"
Genre: Traditional/power metal
Release: Stormspell Records, 2017
Underground heavy metal fans are not just some of the most loyal music enthusiasts on earth, they're also some of the most rabid collectors on earth. Truly fanatical headbangers want to own anything and everything they can find from their favorite bands and sub-genres, from vinyl LPs to dusty demo cassettes or hard to find CDs. There are dozens of small record labels out there dedicated to re-issuing ultra-mega-rare metal material for the hungry masses, so if there's a demo or an out-of-print album by a long-forgotten '80s metal band you've been looking for, no matter how obscure, have patience -- someone is bound to unearth it sooner or later.
Which brings us to Detest, a name I was unfamiliar with until the digital promo for The End of All Ends appeared in my inbox. A quick scan of Metal-Archives reveals that these Swedes were a fairly busy bunch between 1988 and 1991, releasing a half dozen demo tapes and a five song vinyl EP (Thundersteel) before they split up and the band members moved on to other groups like Beyond Twilight and Nocturnal Alliance.
The obscure metal archaeologists at Stormspell Records released a double-disc retrospective of Detest's demo and EP material (also called Thundersteel) in 2012. Now they've followed it up with The End of All Ends, a collection of 12 "new" Detest tracks written back in the day for the band's full length debut album, but which were never recorded due to the band's breakup. Vocalist/guitarist Micke Därth rescued these tunes from oblivion in 2017 and the result is an interesting slab of old-school heavy/traditional metal with an "epic" feel. Put on your armor and your gauntlets, the olde beast is rising again!
"Divide and Conquer"
Archive collections like these are sometimes tough to review. Obviously, if I was a long time Detest fanboy from way back, hearing fresh material from them after all these years would be a gift directly from the Metal Gods, and I'm sure I would be totally over the moon about The End of All Ends. However, for someone who's never heard the band before (i.e. me), an odds-and sods compilation like this may not be best introduction to them. Each of the 12 songs here certainly has their own retro charm -- Micke Därth is a riff machine for sure, and his guitar work is the highlight of every track, but his vocal limitations show through rather awkwardly at times, especially when he tries to hit high notes that are clearly out of his range.
Be that as it may, The End of All Ends opens with the chugging "The Solemn Avenger," which trudges along like soldiers marching off to war. This one apparently picks up where a previous Detest song, "The Avenger," left off, but I'll have to take the band's word for that, since I'm unfamiliar with the original. I hear a bit of Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" in "Final Hour," and "Away" adds some tasteful synth accents to the mix, lending some cinematic flair before the riffs come crashing through. According to Därth's liner-note commentary, the mid-tempo "Thoughts of Love" is the oldest song on this collection, as it was written for his pre-Detest band "Hellrats" and dates all the way back to 1987!
My two favorite tracks on the disc are "Aim Higher," which never wears out its welcome despite its seven minute plus run time, and the speedy, NWOBHM-fueled "Divide and Conquer," which cranked up the tempo considerably. This song doesn't quite approach thrash-metal velocity, but it comes pretty darn close. The album could probably have used a few more songs like this one. "Light in the Sky" is a lead-footed stomper and "The End of All Ends" is a tasty riff fest that closes the album on a high point. In the promotional materials which accompany the album Därth calls the title track "a good way to seal the Detest legacy," and I can't argue with that.
Detest - "Thundersteel" EP (1990)
Summing It Up
I can't say that The End of All Ends totally blew my doors off but I did like what I heard enough that I'm now curious to hear more of Detest's material. I guess in the end that's all they can ask for.
Your mileage may vary, but I'm fairly sure that gotta-have-'em-all, obsessed collectors of obscure cult heaviness ala early Manowar, Candlemass, and Metal Church will want to give The End of All Ends a try. Thumbs up to the archivists at Stormspell Records for keeping this arcane Swedish steel (and others like them) alive for a new generation of headbangers!
© 2017 Keith Abt