Exhumed – “Death Revenge” (Relapse Records)
Uh-oh. Concept. While some metal bands pull it off masterfully, others forever bath in its monumental failure. Thankfully Exhumed stay away from anything Sherlock Holmes and instead go for something far more closer to their rotting hearts – namely the grisly underground trade of grave-robbery in 1820s Scotland! Formed by a 15 year old Matt Harvey in 1990, Exhumed went onto capitalize on the growth of 90s death metal both in the US and Europe until burning out in 2005. Re-activated by the singer guitarist in 2010, they have since returned to fine form both with regular quality releases and also active touring, despite a continuation in line up changes which Harvey these days seems more at ease with. This 6th album sees Harvey try a musical melodrama across 13 tracks and thankfully roots the concept in the lyrics (and some narrations from Harvey and bassist Ross Sewage – great name btw) while keeping the music in its original form of 90s old school death metal. That’s not to say that Exhumed are ‘retro’ – far from it in fact, with the material sounding fresh and invigorating, not to mention catchy, thanks in no small part to Jarrett Pritchard’s (Goatwhore, Hate Eternal, Gruesome) superb production, which definitely gives a crisp, live sound to “Death Revenge”. Musically rooted in Death from diddly dee melodies to Cannibal Corpse guttural vocals, the band also take a mighty chunk out’ve Slayer through occasional punkish tones and definitely in some seriously wailing tremolo solos like on ‘The Anatomy Act of 1832’. However, they also show their more melodic aspect and heavy metal guitar roots on ‘Incarnadined Hands’, which adds a nice contrast while not detracting from their staple sound. And special mention should be made of Michael Hamilton, whose drums are simply all over the music, either in relentless thudding tom work to mid tempo Sacred Reich double bass drumming and outright nuclear blast beats like on ‘Lifeless’ – an absolute pleasure to hear! In creating “Death Revenge”, Matt Harvey’s experiment has produced yet another death metal success and thankfully not one in the vein of Frankenstein’s monster!