Every time I hear a decent album, the subjective nature of personal taste in art comes to mind. I doubt anyone in a band not begrudgingly trying to fulfill a multi-album record contract has thought seriously “know what, let’s shoot for ‘okay’ or ‘meh’ this time around.” Every Entombed clone thought of themselves as carrying on a lineage, writing riffs in the vein of their favorite albums—not being derivative or boring as we may find some of them. This disconnect is fascinating—an album we may hear and not give a second thought to afterward likely consumed weeks, months, years of every member of the band’s life. When this comes to mind, my chief question about middling releases is “why?” Why was this the product of a great effort?
The truth of the matter is that effort alone only accomplishes so much. We, in fact, cannot do anything if we try, despite what we heard in our childhood. People try—and fail—to join the ranks of this website; some of us made it, plenty others didn’t, but we all certainly tried. Such an effort fated for substantially less than longevity and greatness is the major takeaway for me from Come Back from the Dead’s sophomore record The Rise of the Blind Ones. Come Back from the Dead plays that tried-and-true mixture of Entombed and Autopsy we all know and love, but they have an interesting take on it because of what seem to be their favorite records from each band. Autopsy’s stellar The Tomb Within and Entombed’s Morning Star are best represented here, as what’s happening has little to do with Severed Survival or Clandestine. The punk-infused thrashing, the slower crawls but not the dirges from Mental Funeral, even the production recalling both The Tomb Within and Entombed A.D.’s Back to the Front—to my ears, this is a band who loves the canonical classics, but have a deeper emotional connection to the later stuff. Them playing what they want to hear on this record is an extension of that.
At times, what Come Back from the Dead want to hear is what I want to hear too. “Darkness Abominations” is good, beginning on a chaotic lead in the “Captor of Sin” vein—a timeless, wonderful device—and thrashing away simplistically after that while the title is screamed a whole bunch of times. It’s fun, like when Toxic Holocaust did it on “Wild Dogs.” Opening number “Outcast of the Light” has the requisite energy for its position on the record, and while nothing remarkable is happening in terms of riffs or structure, the possibility—due to the strength of its influences—is exciting.
Apart from one highlight track, this possibility is never truly realized. It’s endlessly frustrating, as there’s nothing bad or even incompetent here—it’s just all boilerplate, predictable, and lacks staying power. How, then, is this competent? Aesthetically, it gets the point across—when it’s playing, The Rise of the Blind Ones makes for adequate background death metal. The abrupt transition from punk-tinged riffing to a crawling chug in “Martyr of a Gruesome Demise” grabs the attention, but the lead melody played over top—a mix of bastardized Autopsy and Back to the Front outtakes—is overused, relying detrimentally on strength it lacks. “Jugular I – Heretic Impaler” uses some interesting vocal patterns in the Reifert vein but these are too measured and lose the demented charm of a Reifert performance. “Nebulaes of Malevolent Shining” may as well be Frankensteined out of discarded bits from The Tomb Within, ineffectively building tension with a bland slow part only to speed up a bit to showcase a good solo but no great riffs or effective thrashing.
The Rise of the Blind Ones has good ingredients, but something got lost in the process of baking the cake. Fast parts tend to feel subdued—the drums drive them while the guitars play what sounds like endless variations of unsteady punk-influenced strums. I’ve had a remarkably hard time trying to say anything about this record—the music Come Back from the Dead are passionate about making just leaves me cold—and I can hardly muster up the emotion required to actively dislike this record. Instead, it’s competently performed death metal background noise to my ears, something that wouldn’t upset me if someone put it on, but I wouldn’t care to ask who the band playing was. This is a record damned to faint praise and unenthusiastic tolerance from its target audience.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: comebackfromthedead.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/comebackfromthedead
Releases Worldwide: September 13th, 2019