First, let me say this… I love Matt Harvey. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way and the scene tourists have now clicked off the page and gone back to tumblr and twitter, let’s begin the review…
Exhumed gives us a really nostalgic feel to their soon-to-be released concept album in Death Revenge. Let’s start with the artwork. It’s hard for those of us who grew up watching 70’s and 80’s horror to not get tingles from the promo posters and early slasher-film like painting that adorns the cover. The promo poster itself could easily have been found in one of those grungy video stores fellow horror fan and metal writer Chris Alo and I used to mill through in New York as kids. Certainly it takes me back to an earlier time and place… when Times Square and 42nd Street were dirty, dangerous places and filled with cut-rate cinemas showing a myriad of films that could never be advertised, let alone shown within 1000 miles of the state of Kansas. Now, yes, Times Square today can be considered dangerous, given the violent hustlers in kid’s cartoon costumes and the desnudas shaking down unknowing tourists for cash, but welcome to Mayor DiBlasio’s New York!
“Defenders of the Grave” is just a pummeling bastard of a song that comes in right after the John Carpenter-esque opener “Death Revenge Overture.” You get lulled into the soft yet eerie lull of the overture and then your speakers get an immediate pounding worse than the Indianapolis Colts received in Week 1. With alternating vocals between “dirty” and “brutal” on top of a nasty guitar riff, you’re immediately taken to another time and place. It’s a graveyard, to be specific, and the listener is very quickly immersed in the action of the story as it unfolds over 12 songs. The lead work on “Defenders” is breathtaking and the track is perfect is in setting the tone for the rest of the concept and the record. This is an old-school style gore concept so its going to be a bit more graphic than King Diamond concept records – but still fun to follow along.
“Lifeless” opens a bit slower and is more foreboding as the story starts to head down a different path, but alas, about 40 seconds into the song the blastbeats are there and Exhumed’s trademark brutality rises to the surface. Michael Hamilton does some great drum work on this cut. The return of Ross Sewage on bass is very evident and pronounced. This record is produced by Jarrett Pritchard who I’ve already written about in terms of his amazing contribution to Goatwhore so its little surprise that this Exhumed disc is on point from the production perspective.
This record is most certainly traditional Exhumed but with some greatly enhanced layers in the sound bed and some new twists on lead work that are going to jump out at you slightly more subtly than one of those newfangled modern PG-13 horror flicks that rely too much on mere jump scares and loud noises. This record is more like Wes Craven circa 1972. “Dead End” is going to give you all these little pieces of Halloween ear candy from the lead guitars, not only in the solo work but throughout the track. Listen to it with headphones to gather all the effects.By the way, if you’re a fan of Carcass (and I know there are so many new Carcass fans out there) – give this track a spin as your entry into Exhumed. You will not be disappointed.
What also jumps out on this new record are the catchy choruses and the amazing hook-after-hook structure that’s been sewn into nearly all the tracks. While not all of the songs have the “traditional” Exhumed structure, the record, musically, is clear in its musical phrasing and yes, many of the songs are going to be rather predicable in terms of their content and composition.This isn’t really a bad thing. Exhumed isn’t exactly a prog band. And they’re certainly not one of these “gaze at the floor and dream about universal health care for all” bands either. But I will say I was (pleasantly) taken by surprise when I encountered an extended instrumental on the 10th track.
Lyrically… look… this is Exhumed, and they’re going to sing about gore with a soundtrack to match. If you’re trying to find something political in songs like “The Anatomy Act of 1832” you are likely also boycotting Starbucks because they have a franchised location in Trump Tower. “The horror! … The horror!” I can see Twitter lighting up now… “Can you believe Matt Harvey supports the Anatomy Act of 1832!?! FASCIST!!!”
Overall, with so many clear winners on this record like “Incarnadined Hands” and “The Harrowing” this is an obvious pre-order or a first day buy. The fact that this record comes with extremely cool cover art by Orion Landau and interior illustrations by Lucas Ruggieri (that you will want to display in your home or office) is an added bonus.
Death Revenge will be released on Relapse Records on October 13th and can be preordered here.