I love pure and brutal death metal (I love melodic and progressive and all types of death metal but that’s not what I’m talking about here). And unfortunately, so far this year has been a little lacking in the death metal department according to my ears. There’s been some cool releases that’d I’ve definitely enjoyed quite a bit altogether, like the Oblivion, Suffocation, Wormed, Autopsy, Coffins and Jungle Rot albums, and there are some huge releases looming on the horizon, I’m looking at you Carcass and Gorguts. But I want more! Well guess what, Exhumed is here to save the day! The legendary band’s 6th studio full length album is here, and it really fuckin delivers. This release is titled “Necrocracy” and it absolutely slays, crushes, grinds, and raises the dead. There, that’s enough meaningless hyperbole for today. But seriously “Necrocracy” is another August 6th album that is essential listening.
This is album is chock full of nasty, death metal riffs, and that’s what makes it so great. Exhumed clearly love Carcass, the influence has always been there. Beginning with the debut album “Gore Metal” and Exhumed’s gore worship, and continuing with the combination of grinding tracks, mid paced death metal riffing, melodic soloing and riffing, and the death ‘n’ roll drumming and attitude found on “Necrocracy”, the parallels between the two legends extend pretty deep. Now of course Carcass called it quits before an Exhumed full length hit stores, but the American gore metallers had been releasing splits and demos for quite some time. Still, it’s Carcass who pioneered the sound, and Exhumed who carried on the legacy. But to me, Exhumed have brewed up the perfect mix and conglomerate of all of the tones, styles and genres pioneered and explored by Carass with “Necrocracy.” I’ll put it as simply as I can, Exhumed’s “Necrocracy” is the pillar of success that I will judge the return of Carcass with this year’s “Surgical Steel” with.
Continuing the advances that Exhumed’s first album released after reuniting, “All Guts, No Glory” made, the production on this album is masterful. The guitar tone is where I’ll start. Grimy, heavy, and pure death metal in its essence yet clear and intelligible is the best way to describe the tone Exhumed dialed in for “Necrocracy” The guitar is the perfect tone for modern death metal. Clearly it embodies the grimy, dirty, deadly aspects of old school death metal, but still adds the clarity and genuine ability to understand what is going on in these songs that lacked in the majority of OG 90 death metal bands for so long. The drums also aren’t completely overpowering. They’re clearly there and cover a huge variety of styles but what’s most important right now is the fact that even when furiously blasting, the drums do not completely overpower the rest of the instrumentation, like in Fleshgod Apocalypse last album. The bass tone is awesome too, ya know when you can hear it. Which is actually a decent enough amount of times, for me at least. So that’s a good thing. The vocals are also produced and mixed perfectly. Both the high shrieks and low growls are present, clear, and distinguishable enough to make me happy, without sounding completely overproduced, unnatural and flat like a Suicide Silence record. Overall this production is amazing. It’s completely and utterly grimy, without ever getting muddy. A distinction very important to make that’s very often not.
Speaking of the vocals, how bout the lyrics and subject matter? Obviously Exhumed is a gore themed band. Look at their first album title, “Gore Metal.” It’s been pretty clear from the start. Or look at the promotional line for “Necrocracy” itself if you don’t believe me. Here it is: “The gruesome gods of gore unleash their finest hour to date!” There you go gore metal. But is this simply nonsensical violence portrayed to awesome death metal. Well that’s go straight to the horses mouth and ask Mr. Matt Harvey, guitarist, songwriter, vocalist, lyricist, sole remaining original member and band mastermind. From Harvey’s mouth itself: “One thing I like about gore is that it gives you a set of aesthetics to work with to use as an allegory or metaphor. Even as far back as the first album, a lot of the songs are metaphors for different things. We have songs about consumerism and songs about relationships and songs about politics. Instead of me coming off like a whiny bitch complaining about society, I’m able to put it across in a way that’s really allegorical and has its own entertainment value without having any deeper context…the gore metaphor keeps me from becoming a preachy, pretentious douchebag.” (Thanks wikipedia! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exhumed_(band)#Lyrics) The line ‘I can’t believe how disgusting we really are’ from the solid track ‘Dysmorphic’ really perfectly sums the attitude up. The genocidal dictator based music video for ‘Coins Upon The Eyes’ also hits the nail on the head. Anyways, like all death metal, if you’re not interested in the lyrics or topics or themes, just ignore em, it’s not hard at all.
Part of what makes this album so interesting is the variety. Both the riffing and drumming perfectly nails the barely controlled frenzy off grind, and the loose, energetic rock ‘n’ roll influence, of the death ‘n’ roll style. The drums obviously play a huge part in this but so do the riffs. The songwriting on “Necrocracy” is perfectly in sync when it comes to genre bending. The fact that everyone is so in sync makes the major shifts in style between parts and songs seem so natural and clean. Take for example ‘Sickened.’ This track starts with a nice ‘BLEGH’ blurted out by Harvey and kicks off with a frenetic grind riff, accompanied by effective blast beating. The track continues grinding along until an 80s bay area thrash riff kicks in. And the transition is seamless. Not only does the riff feel perfectly in place, it kicks a song that directly before this transition was bursting to the seems with frenetic grind energy. Yet they kicked it into high gear with a simple thrash part. How? Because that’s just what a band firing on all cylinders can do: manage to make everything extremely enjoyable on first gloss and each successive listen, and impressive upon close examination. Lastly, the soloing on “Necrocracy” is amazing and Exhumed has provided plenty of it. It’s the perfect amount of melodic soloing to really stick out from the grimy death the band lays down throughout the rest of the song.
Exhumed’s newest release “Necrocracy” is absolutely fantastic and is definitely my favorite death metal release of the year so far. This is essential listening 2013, even more if you consider yourself a fan of death metal. The band’s gore themed, death n roll style is better than ever. The riffs are simple and memorable, the solos rip, and the album and I are getting along great. I can’t imagine an Exhumed or Death Metal fan not enjoying this record. Like seriously, I won’t be able to even comprehend it. 10/10 Fight me.