After spending nearly a decade in the grave, the mighty Exhumed was, well, exhumed in 2011 to kick ass once more. I had the pleasure of reviewing the resulting comeback album, All Guts No Glory, which was a satisfying heap of gory-yet-melodic old-school death metal. Now, three years later, Matt Harvey and co. keep the party rolling with the awesomely-titled Necrocracy (look it up).
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Exhumed album without a shit-ton of lineup changes. Every single goddamn person who played on All Guts is gone, other than Harvey. The new lineup includes drummer Mike Hamilton (Deeds of Flesh), bassist/vocalist Rob Babcock, and returning member Bud Burke, who was the band’s bassist in the early ’00s and has apparently been promoted to guitarist. Thankfully, the high turnover hasn’t impacted the band’s sound a whole lot — Harvey is the heart and brain of Exhumed, and he’s got a death grip on the band’s direction and sound.
Thankfully, the band seems to have toned down the more blatant Carcass worship a bit (possibly in anticipation of the real thing’s comeback this fall?). There seems to be a lot more emphasis on super-chugged out midtempo riffs, and while there’s still plenty of blast-tastic-ness, the songs aren’t built upon that this time around. Opening track “Coins Upon The Eyes” shows off the new approach nicely — the blasts are definitely in there, but they’re used to accentuate the hooks and dynamics of the song. The tunes also seem to be slightly longer than they’ve been in the past, possibly because they’re just playing them slower.
But while the method of delivery may be different, the songs themselves are just as solid and meaty as they were on All Guts. The title track ties most of the Exhumed elements together, incorporating extra-large groove riffs, blast beats, and a tasty harmonized solo at the end. A lot of the slower riffs remind me of World Demise-era Obituary, and they give me a sudden urge to wear one of those ugly-ass longsleeve death metal shirts that had like 5 or 6 of the band’s logo on the sleeves.
Burke seems to be a very fluid, classy soloist — check out the Alex Skolnick-esque leads on “The Glory of Death” for the proof. Even more surprising was the acoustic guitar in the middle of “Dysmorphic” (great title, dudes). It’s an unexpected, genuinely pretty section of a genuinely ugly song. Oh, and for those of you who prefer things a little faster, “Sickened” and “Carrion Call” are happy to oblige.
It’s also worth mentioning that the big dog/little dog vocals are weighed pretty heavily in favor of the big dog this time around. I don’t even know which band member provided the gutteral vokills, but it’s odd that so much focus would be placed on someone who isn’t Harvey — especially considering that the other vocalist is likely to not be in the band for long (I mean, let’s be realistic here). Regardless, it makes for some interesting vocal dynamics and some heavier-than-usual moments.
In a weird way, Necrocracy is probably the first “mature” Exhumed record, if goregrind allows for such a thing. This is their Countdown to Extinction, their Heartwork — fuck, maybe even their Invisible Touch. It’s not quite as much fun as All Guts, but it’s also the most musical thing they’ve ever done, and Matt Harvey’s songwriting instincts are razor-sharp as always. If you liked where these guys were headed with All Guts, this is the next step down that path. And if you’ve never heard Exhumed before, this is as good a place to start as any, so stop fucking around and get on it!