I bought Gore Metal from a little tattoo shop that carried Relapse releases due to the success of local deathheads Skinless. I was a freshman in high school and more curious than passionate about death metal. If you know someone who’s on the fence about extreme music one of the most persuasive things you can do is have them listen to a few songs written by Matt Harvey. As a Mets fan I will clarify: The founder of Exhumed, not the All-Star pitcher/nude model of the same name.
Exhumed again triumphs over significant lineup changes, this time welcoming back past-bassist Bud Burke as a guitarist. While the supporting cast is formidable (especially Mike Hamilton, also of Deeds of Flesh), this is a horrorshow that always hinged on the performance of its founder. Always honest about the pop song structures of his blood-drenched compositions, Harvey has understands the power of a good (meat)hook. On their newest release, Necrocracy, Exhumed display the melodic tendencies of Anatomy Is Destiny, the tight songwriting of Slaughtercult and All Guts, No Glory, and the sheer brutality of Gore Metal. We hear all the time that bands are borrowing elements from their entire discography while working towards a sound that’s entirely new, and 90% of the time it’s a load of zombie shit. But Necrocracy is not zombie shit; it’s looking backwards at their history of jubilant bloodshed, then stepping forward.
Kicking off with “Coins Upon the Eyes,” Exhumed blast into their dual growl/snarl attack and deliver the first memorable chorus on the album, hinting where vocal melody might exist if this wasn’t death metal. Other memorable hooks include “Dysmorphic,” which features a Carcass-esque groove fit for a marauding gang of re-animated bikers, and “The Shape of Deaths To Come,” a slick powerhouse song that throws razor sharp At the Gates riffs into the cannibalistic fray. Fans who are particularly hungry for bile-puking grind will devour “Sickened” and “Carrion Call,” which could both chainsaw-duel classics like “Necromaniac” and “Limb From Limb” for supremacy. The album closes strongly with “The Rotting,” with riffs that carve flesh from the bone before settling into a mid-tempo prowl and fading thrash.
I even hesitate to mention this, but I also noticed how similar a few songs felt to the most intense moments of Cradle of Filth’s Midian. From the abyss-scraping growl to the higher-pitched shrieks and the muscular mid-tempo guitarwork, I was just amazed at how comparable elements can deviate due to the direction of one visionary participant (Matt Harvey/Dani Filth). That isn’t saying Exhumed will end up writing songs about mysterious pale women exploring their bloodlusts in foggy woodlands, it’s just interesting how metal can intersect and then speed away from itself.
Like always, Exhumed have a great balance of catchy and disciplined songwriting, brutal technicality, and a macabre sense of fun that continues to scratch, claw, and feast their way to the top of the death metal food chain. This album proves once again that Californian death metal is as mean and nasty as the best examples from any other location, because the constant sun makes the corpses rot faster.
Necrocracy comes out in North America on August 6th, so save your lunch money, creeps. For more info on the band (including merch and upcoming tour dates with Dying Fetus), check out their page at Relapse Records: http://www.relapse.com/label/artist/exhumed.html
And if you want to yell at me for the Cradle of Filth comparison feel free to send me angry Tweets (@MisterGrowl) or hate mails (mistergrowlblog (at) gmail (dot com)).