Exhumed – Horror Review

I fucking love Exhumed. The veteran death metal collective have been kicking out their deathly gore metal jams for over 20 years and time has not slowed them down. Quite the opposite in fact, as Exhumed have arguably improved with age, becoming increasingly refined, melodic and technical without sacrificing the raw edge and blood soaked brutality of their early days. And the band has been on quite the hot streak, with their previous offering, 2017’s Death Revenge, continuing the momentum from 2011s potent All Guts, No Glory and 2013’s exceptional Necrocracy albums. On their latest platter of splatter, Exhumed hearken back to their earlier death metal roots, spattered with grind elements, easing off the melodicism to punch out an album of straightforward, stripped back, yet unmistakably Exhumed tunes.

Horror combines the raw, visceral approach of early gems Gore Metal and Slaughtercult with the more sophisticated, technical and refined approach of the cutthroat All Guts, No Glory. The resulting carnage blasts by in a frenzied display of relentless speed, limb hacking aggression and unhinged violence. Exhumed rip through 15 short, fast cuts in less than half an hour, making for a concise and easily replayable album. Matt Harvey and his loyal cohorts are an incredibly tight unit, especially in their modern incarnation and this shows throughout the accomplished, yet wickedly feral execution. Breakneck rhythms and chaotic, divebombing solos slice through the cyclonic deathgrind riffage and contrasting dual vocal approach. The return of Ross Sewage to the line-up was welcome on Death Revenge and his gurgling low growls are particularly fitting for the content of Horror, working delightfully with Harvey’s trademark snarls and screams.

Speed reigns supreme across the album, but Exhumed have long had a firm grasp of coupling brutal compositions and power packed tempo shifts with rabidly catchy riffs and neck wrecking grooves. And although the arrangements on Horror are a little more straightforward and one-dimensional in structure, skin piercing hooks and infectious grooves remain prevalent. “Naked, Screaming and Covered in Blood” channels thrashy deathgrind with punchy impact, packed with catchy guitar work and grisly vocal chops, topped with wailing, Slayer-esque solos. Exhumed leave plenty of space to indulge their groovier instincts, such as the monstrous later section on the feral old school death bluster of “The Red Death,” and swaggering crunch and infectious riffs of “Playing with Fear.” Meanwhile the one-two punch of “Rabid” and “Dead Meat” embrace Exhumed’s grindier inclinations with devastating effect.

Matt Harvey is quite the riff master and his work alongside new member Sebastian Phillips enlivens Horror’s killer impulses, not to mention the utterly maniacal, off-the-wall solos that feature prominently throughout the album. What it lacks in melodic sophistication compared to Exhumed’s recent albums, Horror makes up ground in its unabashed enthusiasm and sheer sense of bloodletting fun. And while occasionally some songs are guilty of bleeding together, overall the strong, consistent quality and likeability of the album outweighs its lesser qualities and the efficient run-time also works to the album’s advantage.

The return to their older aesthetics is a double edged sword for Exhumed. On one hand it’s cool to hear Exhumed so full of piss, blood and vinegar, embracing their jagged old school deathgrind roots. However, the glinting reflections from the other edge of the blade feels like the album is less compelling compared to the striking dynamic shifts and melodic undercurrent that has worked so well over recent years. When all is said and done Horror is a killer album of consistent quality, though the simplified deviation from Exhumed’s evolved modern songwriting falls marginally short of the lofty standards of their last few albums.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Relapse Records
Websites: exhumed.bandcamp.comfacebook.com/ExhumedOfficial
Releases Worldwide: October 4th, 2019

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