Thirty years after the debut album was released, one of the pioneers of Extreme Metal, Paul Speckmann, has resurrected his Speckmann Project, at least in name, returning with a crushing sophomore offering, Fiends Of Emptiness.
Speckmann Project – Fiends Of Emptiness (Emanzipation Productions)
Release Date: 22 April 2022
Words: Jools Green
This much overdue and no doubt long-awaited follow-up album sees a fresh new line-up and is a collaboration with Swedish Death Metal legend Rogga Johansson, from Paganizer, Ribspreader, Revolting and about forty other bands, along with Kjetil Lynghaug on solo guitar and Jon Rudin on drums.
So, what inspired Paul Speckmann to do a second Speckmann Project album after all this time? “Rogga felt that the many collaborations we did with the Johansson and Speckmann project were sadly not given the attention they deserved,” Speckmann says. “Rogga and I have recorded several excellent albums together that have gone mostly unnoticed by the general public, so maybe the press, as well as the fans, would relate better to the Speckmann name alone.”
The music is written by Rogga, with Paul penning all of the lyrics. The songs on this album have a familiar thrashing punk aggression to them as Rogga has turned his hand writing in a style that reflects perfectly the old-school fury of the early Speckmann works. “Rogga is an excellent and experienced songwriter, but as for being a mimic in this sense, I must explain”, Paul says. “When Rogga approached me regarding this revival project, it was basically in name only. What I mean is that Rogga said he would write an old school record for me to sing.”
Paul says that the one notable difference this time around is that “the songs are shorter and to the point where the first Speckmann Project release had some long and drawn-out lengthy tracks.”
But although three decades may have passed, as far as lyrical themes are concerned, not much has changed. “The themes are always the same in all the bands that I am involved in; anti-religion, anti-government, and genuinely just believing in yourself and trusting your own instincts,” Paul says. “I believe in freedom, although as the years go by, steps are being continually taken to these freedoms and turn the world into machines working for the betterment of the wealthy and influential.”
Fiends Of Emptiness fits twelve tracks into a compact thirty-two minutes (plus an unnerving three-minute soundbite/spoken outro, Through Darkness), so there’s no messing around. It’s a get in, get the job done and get out again offering, an aspect I really like. As Paul has mentioned, Rogga has captured the old school aggression of his earlier works whilst still having an unmistakable “Rogga style” to the sound that Rogga fans will notice and what he has created here sits perfectly with Paul’s raw vocal delivery.
Fiends Of Emptiness is a consistent album, so if you like one, you’ll like the lot, and there are plenty of aspects to like. Paul’s impressively well intonated, often deranged and powerfully dramatic vocal delivery adds so much atmosphere and emotion to the tracks, and the suitably deranged solos from Kjetil are just two examples.
The album opens on Absolute Power, which sets the overall mood for the album, begins with squealy old school leads and filthy thrashy madness, continuing in the same mood with Indifferent and A Sick Carnival.
By the time you get to Destroy The Weak, if you didn’t already know who was behind the rhythm guitar, you’d guess by this track, as it has Rogga written all over it.
The next few tracks particularly caught my interest. Firstly, The Corporate Twisted Control delivers a slightly slower paced slab of old school filth with a great, equally filthy repeat melody that pops its subtle but welcome head up on a regular basis. Fiends Of Emptiness has more of a driving pace with riffs like a machine gun set on autofire, alongside great leadwork.
Further on, A Diabolical Sense Of Proportions gets straight in with bonkers leadwork, so you know it’ll be a brutal driving, filth covered beast of a track. Canceled, with its punchy spoken vocals and squealing leads to open, is an unrelenting driver with great second half leadwork that complements the machinegun riffing that follows.
The penultimate piece, The Calm Before The Storm, is an unstoppable juggernaut of a track that only relents sufficiently for the squealing lead work to burst through. It’s an offering that is both crushing and well varied.
If you enjoy old school, filthy Death Metal, then Fiends Of Emptiness should definitely appeal to you, and the even better news is, as Paul Speckmann says, “you won’t have to wait another thirty years for the next one because I have signed a contract for two releases with Emanzipation in Denmark an off-shoot of the Target Group. So in 2023, we will record yet another release.”