I can dig it
Common Dead is the one man project of Andrew Laurenson. All instruments, production, everything. That in itself is a commendable effort, what's even more commendable is the fact that this is actually really fucking good. This is something I've wanted to hear for a long time. Sure, this is Melodic Death Metal, but it's taking queues from what I think are the three of the best melodic death metal albums of all time. This album sounds like Black Earth, Stigmata and Burning Bridges era Arch Enemy.
The production is as slightly muddy as it is on Black Earth, and gives all the songs present here sinister overtones, such as in the first song 'Abrupt Legacy'. The riffs are fast, and the vocals sound like Johan Liiva himself. All the melody you'd expect is there too, 'Chronic Solitude' has leads that are catchy and melodic and don't sound at all like In Flames fan wank. It's a breath of fresh air in a sense this is something so old that'd being done new again and I couldn't be happier to hear it.
Unfortunately, as much as I love this, I can understand how people couldn't get into it. Initially, the vocals can be frustrating to get used to, as Laurenson is essentially yelling into the mic, as was Liiva's style on the Arch Enemy albums he was present on. There's some sections in songs where he switches up the dynamic, either talking monotonously or doing brief, deep gutturals to provide some variety, and even a black metal scream to just throw it out there, but it doesn't change that this vocal style isn't the easiest to get used to.
Another issue is that whilst it is admirable to tackle making an entire album by yourself, the production is off at times. Some of the guitar solos, like in 'Qualmsphere' just sound...off, sometimes they're either too far back in the mix, sounding a bit muddied and flat, or they're brought too high up, sounding high pitched and irritating. This isn't all the time though, but it happens enough to be a problem. Though I think the high standard of riffing can more than make up for this, there's some real quality chops on display here, hell, not just that but all the instruments are tight and audible, a very meritable achievement considering that this is all just one dude.
So if you want to hear some old school Swedish worship, you'll probably dig Common Dead, especially if you think that Arch Enemy's first 3 albums where their best. It's great to here this sound coming out of another band, no matter how obscure.