Released: 2017, Self Released
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
In doing some prep for this review, I revisited Ex Dementia’s back catalog and suddenly had the realization that it’s been 8 years since their last release, THE RED MASS. 8 whole years since we’ve heard any new material from the New Jersey horror hooligans; it doesn’t seem possible, but the math doesn’t lie. But after listening to their just released CRACK THE COFFIN, I quickly understood what the band was doing during that absence - they were growing up.
Blending b-movie horror themes with thrashified death metal has long been Ex Dementia’s shtick, but it was always a tongue in cheek and tended not to take itself too seriously. CRACK THE COFFIN retains that spirit, but everything that really counts has matured. The songwriting is better, the performances are pretty damn exceptional, even the CD packaging received the hi-gloss treatment; the whole thing feels much more legit. The up-tempo rhythmic barrages on “The Dripping Skull” are vice grip tight and compel thy head to bang, the pit ready anthem “Hobbs End” matches crossover skank with some wardance breakdowns, while “Sloven Blood Collection” summons the spirit of Chuck Schuldiner to guide them.
And as much as the songwriting has evolved, so has the band as performers. The rhythm section of longtime drummer Branden and new bass player Joe Safuto pummels towards new depths of aggression, and Kristopher Ernisto sounds like he’s finally comfortable with his voice. And the addition of Condition Critical guitarist Tony Barhoum to the lineup injects a new level of technical proficiency into the tunes, adding some slick dynamics to the Ex Dementia sound.
As with past albums, CRACK THE COFFIN clocks in under 25 minutes; so while it’s a definite ‘hit and run’ kind of listen, the band packs a lot of madness into that sprint. It sucks that it took 8 years to get a new Ex Dementia album, but CRACK THE COFFIN was an album worth the wait.