Album: Death Revenge
Label: Relapse Records
Genre: Death Metal, Deathgrind
Country: United States
Release Date: 13 October, 2017
Reunions do not always work, that is a given. When you take a prolonged amount of time away from the scene (whether you helped to create it or not) there is always a chance that the genre and the fan base that surrounds it will eventually move on and leave you behind. To come back after this amount of time and remain relevant is no simple task.
So it goes without saying that when Exhumed did exactly that with their return from hiatus in 2010 to the live scene and then releasing their first studio effort in six long years the fast-paced, frantic ‘All Guts, No Glory’ in the summer of 2011 it was no small feat that the boys managed to get their faces back in and amongst the big players in the Death Metal genre to tour extensively despite the fact that they lost and replaced members as they went. Since then the lads have gone on to release a further two impressive studio efforts, 2013’s ‘Necrocracy’ and a split release with Municipal Waste’s frontman Tony Foresta’s side project Iron Reagan. It is safe to say that Exhumed have built up some momentum heading into the latter stages of 2017 and as they sit upon their latest studio effort ‘Death Revenge’ they are hoping to capitalise on this.
The band have been backed by the people at Relapse Records since they orignially put pen to paper with them before their fantastic debut release ‘Gore Metal’ back in 1998 and it is clear to see why with their latest release ‘Death Revenge’. This is the first release from Exhumed to contain a concept throughout and as you can imagine it is particularly grizzly. It is based upon the grave robbing epidemic that plagued Edinburgh in Scotland in the 1820s and the gruesome murders that coincided with the grim acts. However, the style in which they deliver their particular brand of Death Metal has not changed dramatically at all.
The album opens with a beautiful, yet all too brief introduction before throwing open the Death Metal floodgates with ‘Defenders Of The Grave’. The beats are fast and punishing, the guitars are ferocious and as technical as ever and the vocal trade off between guitarist/vocalist Matt Harvey and bassist Ross Sewage (with contributions from guitarist Bud Burke) are as strong as ever. The use of contrasting high pitched, almost Black Metal-esque growls and deep, guttural Death Metal screams serves wonderfully in creating an another layer to the metal onslaught on display here. Although the drumming work on this incredibly impressive, it is the guitar work that steals the spotlight. Especially when it gets to around the two and a half minute mark when the two six-stringers begin to trade off intricate lead runs and solos that would stand up against most metal bands around.
Another highlight on the album is the track ‘Night Work’ which has a particularly gruesome and utterly brilliant music video to accompany it in order to promote the album. The track itself opens with a riff that is not too dissimilar to the classic Thrash Metal song ‘Raining Blood’ by Slayer. This is not to say that it is a rip off in any way, shape or form as these boys have more than enough creative ideas floating around as they prove with the following bludgeoning Death Metal riff. The finger burning guitar solos on this track are once again superb and make the fact that these guitarists have any fingerprints left at all nothing short of a miracle. This is head banging music, simple and true.
Through the middle to latter stages of the album the pace remains the same and that is neck-snappingly fast. Tracks such as ‘The Harrowing’ and ‘Incarnadined Hands’ keep the quality levels sky high with the riffs coming in abundance and the rhythm section of Sewage and Hamilton tying up to create a bass layer that is truly air tight. Who needs air anyway? Besides, these boys would sooner bury you alive underneath their heavily distorted guitar assault and apocalyptic percussion. Throw in to that the virtuoso lead runs that gives the audience the melody that is so desperately needed in Death Metal to cut through the savagery.
It goes without saying that the album artwork is gory and attention-grabbing. Somewhat resembling a 1980s Horror movie. The riffs are filthier than cemetery dirt and the entire macabre story line that runs the whole way through this album would have been enough to give Jeffrey Dahmer or John Wayne Gacy nightmares. These are all of the key features that are required to make a Death Metal album great and that is exactly what the result of this dark and dingy mix of ingredients have created. A fucking great Death Metal album. Will it be remembered as a classic? Possibly not because there are so many bands in the genre creating great music at this point in time. Should it be remembered? Absolutely. And I can promise you that it will be a regular in my playlists for the foreseeable future.
A grand soundtrack to a grim tale.
1. Death Revenge Overture
2. Defenders Of The Grave
4. Dead End
5. Night Work
7. Gravemakers Of Edinburgh
8. The Harrowing
9. A Funeral Party
10. The Anatomy Act Of 1832
11. Incarnadined Hands
12. Death Revenge
Total Playing Time: 44:27