As many of us learned from magnets or, for an elite few, Paula Abdul and her weird rapping cartoon cat companion, opposites have the ability to attract if they’re strong enough. As we learned from making friends, joining any voluntary association, or reading Plato’s Timaeus, like knows and seeks out like at a high rate too. And Czech Swedeath merchants Brutally Deceased are going for this principle with their third record, Satanic Corpse. This is a record by fans of Dismember deciding they want to play Swedeath just like The God That Never Was, but also want to be Iron Maiden too, and for fans of Dismember’s aforementioned playing with Swedeath madness.
Okay, it’s a wee bit more complex than that, but if you liked the best late-period Dismember record you’re going to like what’s going on here. Brutally Deceased spice things up from that template in two ways. The first is playing the modern take on Dismembered characteristic of Demonical and Entrails, making for some thick, burly riffing that can be impressively punishing. The second is adding in post-Necroticism Carcass, earlier Entombed, and some black metal via Anaal Nathrakh to the melodic arsenal to switch it up from the Iron Maiden style dual-guitar harmonies that characterize most of the material here and The God That Never Was. Vocally, Satanic Corpse is consistent and unsurprising; Michal Štěpánek has a convincing roar that suits the music to a tee.
There’s a lot to like about what Brutally Deceased is doing here because Satanic Corpse is peppered with concise bursts of aggression tempered by melody and doesn’t overstay its welcome whatsoever at a lean twenty-nine minutes. Those who didn’t care for Swansong (myself not included) will be shocked at how well its rock-infused melodic stylings work in “Hostile Earth” over some decisively heavier riffing, and how well it sticks to the ribs and in the brain. “Withstanding the Funeral” makes the most of its short duration, barraging the listener with some quick, melodic, and memorable riffs and abruptly ending; it simultaneously left me wanting more and satisfied, which is an oh-so-convenient reminder to play Satanic Corpse through again when it finishes. “Epoch of Self-Denial” and “Where No Gods Dare” is a mid-album one-two punch of high-quality melodic Swedeath, ably getting past the mid-album slump that plagues so many releases.
There’s little to gripe about here, but “Ruthless Cleansing” is the source of a minor complaint. It’s a good song, but sounds like an okay tune from an okay Entrails record; entertaining, but not all that great. “At One with the Dead” is a great song with a wonderful ending that works so well because it takes influence from Dismember’s excellent “Under a Bloodred Sky” by copying its concluding lead melody almost exactly. It works amazingly in context, but that nagging feeling of “too close in sound for comfort” was something I couldn’t quite shake despite my repeated enjoyment. With that in mind, it would’ve made a great closer but “In Torment We Shall Strive” is given that role, in which it performs adequately. It doesn’t have the climactic nature of its predecessor, and in turn feels more like an epilogue than a grand finale. Nonetheless, it’s a quality tune, but some may find themselves wishing it occupied a different spot on the tracklist.
While hectares away from being the most dynamic thing in the world, Satanic Corpse’s production sounds appropriately heavy and frames its content well. Leads are clean and clear, bass is about as distorted as the guitars and does little more than bolster their riffs, and drums are punchy and clear. All of this works perfectly for Brutally Deceased’s sound and furthers the impression of this record being a complete package. There’re more nice things to say about tracks unmentioned here, and it was remarkably easy to listen to Satanic Corpse over a dozen times in a few days. While I won’t listen to it that much now that I don’t have to write about it, it’s going to get fairly regular spins regardless. This is the epitome of a very good record, and it comes duly recommended.