Released: 2017, Relapse
Reviewer: Mr. Metalguy (Guest Reviewer)
In music and music theory, the term “libretto” is used to describe both the words of an opera or long form composition and also any booklet comprising those works. It may seem odd to use such phraseology in the discussion of goregrind legends Exhumed, but believe you me it is absolutely not, as their latest opus, DEATH REVENGE, is in fact a musical and an opera. It is a terror story based on true events that occurred during the 19th century in Edinburgh. Google Burke and Hare murders if you want to learn more.
Full stop: In the event that opening salvo “Introduction: Death Revenge Overture” does not make you want to watch Halloween, examine your life choices.
Taking grind to new heights, Matt Harvey here reaches what is arguably the zenith of his writing prowess as he has constructed narrative tale recounting the exploits of Burke and Hare and their dastardly deeds as well as those who aided and abetted them. I am not going to go so far as to say his writing will never be better, but it may well never be as verbose and enrapturing. Reading the liner notes and delving into the story is just as much fun as it is to headband along to the pulsating rhythm being spewed forth from speakers on every track, oozing forth with metallic malevolence, fugacious in its onslaught and deserving of undivided attention.
DEATH REVENGE is undoubtedly meant to be digested in a single sitting, however piecemeal work is necessary within the larger game, and in advance of the album bludgeoning in full lead off single “Night Work” hacked and slashed its way through your brain, leaving lesions to be filled with questions of what else the album had in store, expanding the trademark sound of Exhumed beyond being the second best Carcass clone out there (the first is The County Medical Examiners, if curious). In the event you haven’t already bought DEATH REVENGE, cue up “Night Work” and see what I mean - it is frenzied and almost unhinged but deliberate in its execution.
Now, to take a short step back, since you now have the album in your hands (yes it demands a physical presence), “Dead End” contains one of the best gurgles I have ever heard in my entire life. No amount of Drano will make it go away. Damn.
It bears mentioning here that, again, above all else, DEATH REVENGE is an opera, a piece of musical cinema. What is cinema without a score, without some atmosphere amidst the blood splatter? Enter in the aptly titled “Interlude: Grave Makers of Edinburgh” which, while short, is an expertly arranged bit of fancy as opposed to flotsam, a welcome respite from the relentless battery that an Exhumed album represents. It’s actually beautiful. But, then again, so is the face melting ferocity of follow up “The Harrowing,” so be prepared for that.
Pressing ever forward, and in true form composition with a nod to classical interpretations, approximate midway point “A Funeral Party” recalls the musical theme presented at first introduction, reeling the listener back into the narrative just in case attention had waned or been caught elsewhere, fretboards surely smoking with the resultant friction of fleet fingers, bass drums swollen from the beating they have been forced to endure thus far.
Musically, DEATH REVENGE pushes the idea of Exhumed to new places and to to new heights, including but not limited to audible (and audacious) bass guitar work as well as, in places, near power metal melody and lead work as well as outright thrash and D-beat/crust influence. Lyrically, it is head and shoulders above anything they have done before. Overall, for what it is representing, it cannot be a better album and you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Masterful in execution.