The Glorious Dead – Into Lifeless Shrines Review

Old school death metal never gets olde at the House of Steel. I’m a sucker for the stuff and I’m willing to give any such act a chance to show off their gnarly, aged wares. Michigan’s The Glorious Dead rolled their dead cart into town recently with the promo for full-length debut Into Lifeless Shrines, and I was there to greet them. With a sound not far removed from vintage Massacre, the band flavors their ugly concoction with very light traces of prog and black metal, touching on several decades of death metal and borrowing from luminaries like Bolt Thrower and Entombed as they pummel their way into your wormy heart. The result is an interesting and potent slab of ugliness with a few mild surprises in store for the listener. There are also some hiccups along the way, but such is the life of the young old school death warrior.

Yes, there’s the obligatory eerie, unsettling intro, but let’s focus on the prime cuts. Proper opener “Vitreous Hemmorhage” blasts you in the face like a sawed off shotgun, using nasty vocals and frantic, Morbid Angel-esque riffs as the buckshot. Things are raw and scabby, and there’s a nifty little guitar line that keeps returning every few seconds to probe and punish like a rusty dental drill. It’s heavy stuff but there’s a subtle prog undertone, similar to when Death started pushing the envelope on Spiritual Healing. It’s so subtle that you may overlook it as you get caught up in the fury and fusillade. Some of the riffs are truly tasty and when everything gels at 2:40 it’s a savage cadaver of vile beauty. “The Noise of Gravediggers” veers down the Left Hand Path for some d-beaty fun without fully committing to the Swedeath style, venturing off the trail to lay down doomy riff segments and black-infused chug n’ blasts. This pair of cuts make an impressive opening salvo that sadly, the band cannot always equal in intensity and charm.

That’s not to say there aren’t more good looking devils buried here. The title track is a righteous, face-peeling piece of death which feels fresh and vital though it sounds like something that fell off the back of Massacre‘s From Beyond only to get salvaged and pimped out by Corpsegrinder era Cannibal Corpse. “Leave It For the Worms” is like a modern take on Death‘s Leprosy era and naturally that’s a fun ride. The rest of Into Lifeless Shrines features good to slightly less good variations on the above themes. No song exists just to take up space, but there are some borderline generic stompers like “Cranial Festering.” There’s also a tendency to stretch good songs past the logical ending point, thereby reducing their impact. “Celebrate the Corpse” falls victim to this phenomena – a good death tune with a strong Novembers Doom flavor that shambles too far for its own good. “Tenebris Arca” suffers a similar fate. An attempt to shake things up with a doom/death approach full of dark melancholy, it works at first but creeps and crawls too long, ultimately becoming tedious and killing the album’s momentum.

T.J Humlimski has a very effective death croak that recalls Paul Kuhr of Novembers Doom at his most grotesque, and he makes all sorts of inhuman roars and screeches over the course of the album. He’s a high point throughout Into Lifeless Shrines and my kind of monster frontman. He and Marty Rytkonen deliver a lovely collection of course, abrasive riffs. Some pancake you like the best Bolt Thrower leads once did, others flay with a caustic thrashing energy. They even meander into blackened spaces on cuts like “Exordium of Flesh” and do a good job of it. Bassist Chris Boris is another ace, with his slightly proggy rumbling omnipresent and interesting in every cut. The material’s faint prog flair is a nice spice and the restrained adventurism does the material good. The oft prevalent bloat does not. This is the album’s biggest shortcoming as many songs feel too long, as does the album itself at a portly 52-plus minutes.

Issues aside, I had a pretty good time with Into Lifeless Shrines. It’s a solid dose of old school death with some unusual undercurrents. I wish it was tighter and more concise, but hey, it’s a debut. The Glorious Dead have the talent and the tools to come back with a tank squad full of wrath and I’ll be keeping my eye out for their next graveyard misadventure. These aren’t bad lifeless shrines to defile, if that’s your thing.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: Resists DR rating via evil powers | Format Reviewed: 1411 kbps (lossless)
Label: Bindrune
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 4th, 2020

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