Coffin Dust received quite a bit of buzz in the metal underground these last few months (well, at least from that really tiny niche populated by metalheads looking in every nook and cranny for obscure bands). The “buzz” is primarily due to the notoriety of vocalist/guitarist, Slime. Who knew a single year serving as Exhumed‘s bassist was enough for a label to fuse those death/grind legends to every promotional piece that hit the web? Regardless of how this Philadelphia quartet gets its publicity, their This Cemetery, My Kingdom debut kicked some major ass. It was jam-packed with nearly an hour of bass-heavy, bone-dry rawness as decrepit as a century-old corpse, and it’s because of that release that I became as giddy as a schoolgirl when sophomore release, Everything Is Dead, hit the promo box [You’re always acting like a schoolgirl, don’t lie. – Steel Druhm]. In the end though, you can’t rely solely on the Exhumed connection to sell albums. And Everything Is Dead has a lot of pitching to do to convince me of its worth.
Unfortunately, all of my excitement for this release deflated the moment opener “Serrated” began. And, sadly, the excitement didn’t return even after the introductory riffs of follow-up “Gore Ensemble” finally arrived. After a two-minute build that combines police-siren guitar licks over some slow-trudging Autopsy atmospheres, the listener is forced to follow this meandering composition of death and grind around for another five minutes. I want to enjoy this song but it just doesn’t go anywhere and I become more impatient with it every time I spin the album. Relief eventually comes via shorter numbers like “Commander Exhumer” and “The Living Coffin.” Unfortunately, later tracks also suffer the same prolonged epidemic consuming “Gore Ensemble.” “Stiff and Cold” is another such ditty that suffers this disease, but its chorus is a pleasing mix of Ghoul/Impaled-inspired rasps and growls that will send you frolicking like a nut-job through your local cemetery.
While “Gore Ensemble” and “Stiff and Cold” fail in their lengthy delivery, the title track makes it work. Which makes zero sense being that the closer is the longest song on the album (maxing out at nearly ten minutes). This Cemetery shines through in the song’s structure and the opening trash chugs are about as headbangable as anything on Splatterthrash. As the song dodges around headstones and cuts through the dense fog with Chuck Schuldiner-esque leads, the holy ground finally succumbs to a massive breakdown that sends Slime’s voice echoing from the front gate to the far-off fence-line with the most badass proclamation of the album: “I am the cemetery!”
As mentioned earlier, “Commander and Exhumer” and “The Living Coffin” act as stark contrasts to the longer tracks of the album. The former makes use of the shriek/bark vocal combinations found in “Stiff and Cold,” while the latter’s short run-time is spent dishing out nifty drum-work and Deathy guitar leads. Both tracks are decent but mostly standard for the genre. However, the biggest contrast would have to be the Slayer cover, “Metal Storm/Face the Slayer.” This rendition does suit the overall album theme, but it stands out a bit too much for my liking. It doesn’t derail the album entirely, but it doesn’t contribute much either.
In the end, the title track has the most to offer the listener and single-handedly carries this album. It also helps that the song has strong similarities to material found on This Cemetery, My Kingdom. Slime’s vocals, for better or worse, have tightened since the debut; focusing on a combination of well-enunciated rasps and growls. The meaty bass still has a big presence on Everything Is Dead, but it isn’t as pronounced as it was on the debut. The subtle difference in Slime’s vocals doesn’t add or detract from the record, but I do miss the crunch of Cellar Dweller’s bass as it burrowed through the mix of the debut. All in all, Everything Is Dead has its moments and most diehard fans will adore it. But, for me, it’s rather disappointing compared to its predecessor.