Macabre // Grim Scary Tales
Rating: 4.0/5.0 — It’s Macabre
Label: Hammerheart Records [EU] | Willowtip Records [US]
Websites: murdermetal.com | myspace.com/macabre
Release Dates: US: 02.08.2011 | EU: 01.31.2011
Macabre probably shouldn’t need any introduction to the majority of readers on this blog, but it’s possible they might. So let’s put it like this… Macabre is pretty much the one of the most underrated and idiosyncratic death metal bands of all time. Or grind. Or, whatever the hell you call them. These guys have been around forever (25 years, apparently) and while they haven’t produced that many full lengths in their existence, they have produced some of the most memorable albums I own. My first introduction to the band came around the time when they released Dahmer, which is their infamous concept album about Jeffrey Dahmer. Yessiree, bob. If you haven’t heard that record you are missing out. But Dahmer isn’t it, 1993’s Sinister Slaughter is another classic which is loaded with amazing tracks, as is 2003’s Murder Metal. But since it’s been about 8 years since the release of Murder Metal, I’d kind of even forgotten that these guys were still around. So what a fantastic surprise when Grim Scary Tales landed in my box. Oh, happy day!
And Macabre picks up right where they left off, really, because writing songs about serial killers is indeed their schtick. This time around they seem to be taking up some of the more historical cases (not that they’ve ever shied away from it), taking up Locusta, Emperor Nero, Vlad Dracul and Countess Bathory (as well as a myriad of others). And in their idiosyncratic way they paint images of what these sick fuckers did and to whom they did it. This is probably the stickiest, but also best, part of the Macabre sound. Because every serial killer was a unique person in a unique context, they tend to write tracks that sort of fit the common/public perceptions of the killer. So, for example, “Countess Bathory” sounds like a Venom song, whereas “Nero’s Inferno” is an “operatic” track (to a somewhat-less-than-pleasing effect). My personal favorite stylistically is probably “The Bloody Benders,” which despite the cheesy southern accent, has a ho-down feel about how this family known as the Bloody Benders killed a number of travelers when they stopped at their place.
It’s actually really hard to say what it is that makes this band work, because if only pieces of what these guys do were on other CDs I’d probably rip it apart. The vocals, for example, are really weird even for death metal. Vocalist Corporate Death has a unique scream that I’ve never heard anywhere else, it’s kind of annoying, but for some reason it really works with music. And the music itself is also a tad strange, at times it sounds less like ‘riffs’ and more like finger exercises that the band is doing. And even the lyrics, which take up all of these gruesome topics, are super end-rhymey and almost like nursery rhymes, which when other bands do it I find to be really annoying. But when Macabre does it? Genius. These guys just have a knack for the music. The songs are fun, the ideas are strong, the riffs are addictive and the topics are well-researched and, dare I say it, educational!
In a comparative perspective Grim Scary Tales is maybe not as good as some of their earlier material, I’d certainly say that Dahmer and Sinister Slaughter are better, also heavier. One thing that really took me by surprise was how much clean vocals dominated on this album. But even then, Grim Scary Tales is pretty awesome because it’s Macabre and therefore it’s just full of fantastic stuff. At 45 minutes nearly every song is a highlight and the material is sick enough to gross out your girlfriend, your parents and sometimes even yourself when you hit Wikipedia to look up Karl GroÃŸman (“The Sweet Tender Meat Vendor”). Gruesome, awesome stuff.