Death-gore maniacs Exhumed still spill blood with strongly played ‘Necrocracy’


A lot of people can’t stand the sight of their own blood. Some people can’t stand to see blood, period. It’s never really bothered me much unless said blood was smeared across a street (saw that before) or on walls (that one, too), but when it’s coming out of my body, it’s no big deal. Unless I’m bleeding buckets, then I’ll be a little worried.

I’ve always been kind of cool with blood and gore, going through watching horror movies growing up to loving the Abdullah the Butcher/Bruiser Brody bloodfests during my obsession with pro wrestling, and something’s always drawn me there because it always just looks like so damn much fun. That’s also probably because I’m not the one bleeding, but whatever. No one forced Ric Flair to bleed so badly that his platinum hair turned red, but it was pretty fucking cool nonetheless. That blood-and-guts appeal is also what turned me on to death metal initially, before the gruff sound and uncompromising brutality infected me just as deeply, and the shocking lack of genuine horror and plasma from so many bands the last decade is what makes me sad when I think about the state of death metal today. Then again, not everyone has abandoned us.

Exhumed coverAny time a new Exhumed record lands in my inbox, it’s a good day. And a promising one. The death and grind monsters who have been lacerating foreheads with their sounds for more than two decades now and are one of the reliable bastions of the genre. They’re never going to go easy on you or censor the terror. If that’s what you require from death metal, I’m sure Hot Topic has plenty of CDs and related shirts that promise death metal but delivers fluff. But if you want the real thing–razors and knives and hammers and broken bones brand of death—you really can’t go wrong with Exhumed, and their new album “Necrocracy” delivers what you want in spades. The follow-up effort to their 2010 return album “All Guts, No Glory” even has some really impressive playing from a band that’s been there, done that, and come back from the dead to claim more bodies. Not that that should surprise anyone.

Matt Harvey, of course, is your master of ceremonies of sorts, with his deranged and savage vocals and accompanying guitar slaying. Joining him are Bud Burke, Rob “Body Bag” Babcock, and Mike Hamilton, rounding out a brand-new lineup that sounds like it’s ready to explode. They sound mean, heavy, and channeled, and chances are they won’t mind showing people what their own blood looks like, which is kind of mean but also sort of expected. Keep in mind it’s also a pretty good sounding record, so you’re not getting basement-scruffed recordings that some death metal purists demand, but when you have players this good, you need to songs to be clean and smooth.

“Coins Upon the Eyes” is your first salvo, and it also was released as a single, so you might be familiar. It’s a really great choice for the kickoff, as it hits a nasty thrash groove, the growling/screaming tradeoff already is at a fevered pitch, and the lead guitar work is simmering and impressive. “Dysmorphic” dares to get a little proggy in sections, with more flurried guitars and inhumane screaming over the chorus, with gang shouts to back up Harvey. In the middle of the cut, the song kicks into an acoustic passage that sounds a hell of a lot like the intro to Testament’s “Eerie Inhabitants.” Then it explodes again. “(So Passes) The Glory of Death” is a killer track, with a savage, practically spat-out chorus and killer blast beats. “The Rotting” has a really cool lead melody line, more strong lead guitar work, and a tempo that reeks of thrash, and it’s more of a melodic cut than a brutal one.

The album then hits a bit of a snag with “The Shape of Deaths to Come,” a song that goes a little too deep into cliché territory, even if it is a little bit fun. It feels a little gimmicky though. The title track follows and also gasps a little bit, with thick bass and tricky riffs, but it’s missing something. Luckily the record recovers with “Sickened,” a chugging, grind-friendly monster that’s belchy and fast, pouring on the pure death goodness. “Ravening” brings back the growl/scream stew, and the drums absolutely obliterate everything, leading toward the meat-shredding “Carrion Call,” that is grisly and maniacal. It’s one of the best tracks on the album, and there it is, waiting to pounce on you as the record winds down. Closer “The Rotting” is a nice, battering finish that’s ugly but also intricately played. It’s a great example of how Exhumed can be blood-soaked and wizard-like at the same time, during the same track.

“Necrocracy” isn’t the best Exhumed album on their gory resume, but it’s still a damn good one. The world certainly needed these guys as death metal was getting terribly watered down, especially when it comes to the stuff that could appeal to those looking to get away from the mainstream and into something a little more furious. This is a fun record that gives you the best of both horror and compositional style, and it works to maintain death metal’s good name.

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