Gruesome – “Savage Land” (Relapse Records)
OMG. If you’re a fan of original Death during their classic “Leprosy” line up then this intentional homage to those pioneers of Florida death metal will take you right back to those heady days of Evil Chuck Schuldiner! Led by another legend in Matt Harvey of Exhumed, and joined by Gus Rios (Ex-Malevolent Creation) drums, Possessed guitarist Daniel Gonzalez and Derketa bassist Robin Mazen, the result is 8 scathing tracks that sound so close to that original style that “Savage Land” could have been Death’s 3rd album! Just to be clear, songs like ‘Hideous’ and ‘Gangrene’ are not covers but originals penned by Harvey & co – it’s just that they’ve been done so damn well they could be right outta 1988! Everything, I mean everything, from Chuck’s growled gurgled vocals to the diddly dee riffola and wailing neo classical soloing of Rick Rozz along with the aerobic chopping drum work of Bill Andrews has been faithfully reproduced to perfection by this veteran crew. With Jarrett Pritchard at Mana Studios giving “Savage Land” an authentic old school sound, ex Death guitarist James Murphy returns to guest solo on ‘Closed Casket’ and even original artist Ed Repka has had his hand in providing cheesy artwork true to that era. It really doesn’t get any better than this making this album a compelling purchase for anyone who loved “Leprosy” and despite all the ups and downs associated with Death, I would like to think that this is one release that Chuck would have no issue with whatsoever.