Exhumed, ‘Necrocracy’ – Album Review
The masters of splatter are back with their second album since re-forming in 2010 after a five-year disbandment. Exhumed, like their California brothers Impaled, have a serious Carcass addiction. However, they never really needed any treatment or a stint in rehab to remedy this goregrind/death metal stranglehold.
‘Necrocracy’ starts off with a ground-and-pound style that has been perfected by the band for so long. ‘Coins Upon the Eyes’ kicks into high gear, but then downshifts into a mid-tempo melodic groove that comes to dominate a majority of the album. The guttural vocals of Rob Babcock trade off with Matt Harvey’s menacing high shrieks, bringing a familiar aspect into play right away. The listeners are treated to punishing blast beats, which, unfortunately, don’t appear all too frequently during the remainder of this sonic slab.
As the album continues with songs like ‘Necrocracy,’ ‘Dysmorphic’ and ‘Carrion Call,’ it becomes apparent that the band have shifted their focus from the grinding fury with small melodic breaks to the polar opposite. The Carcass worship has advanced to the more melodic elements and traditional song structures of ‘Heartwork’ and ‘Swansong.’ However, one thing Exhumed have always had a keen sense for are vocal hooks, which naturally still work their way into the music. This new approach really comes down to preference, and those that enjoy melody and mid-tempo riffing will enjoy this album to no end. The fans who bow down at the goregrind altar of the early Exhumed albums ‘Gore Metal’ and the masterpiece ‘Slaughtercult’ may take issue with ‘Necrocracy.’
Fans of early Exhumed can turn that frown upside down in a few places here. ‘Sickened’ and ‘The Rotting’ mesh the band’s new dynamic with the old to create truly crushing tracks that should please anyone listening. ‘Sickened’ opens with Harvey projecting a puking yelp before the drummer Michael Hamilton’s ride cymbal takes a merciless beating as Exhumed go for the jugular. The melodic mosh groove at the halfway point culminates after Harvey exclaims for listeners to “move your a–!” You better do it.
Throughout ‘Necrocracy’ there are moments of brilliance among relatively stagnant songwriting. As always, the soloing is top notch and memorable, which is a rarity in bands of this ilk. The duel in ‘Ravening’ is among the highlights with a more traditional ‘80s metal solo battling a Slayer-style solo complete with whammy bar wails. With ‘Necrocracy,’ the little things like a crazed ape mosh riff here and there, hooks, and solos are engrained in the subconscious more so than an entire song.
It seems like Exhumed have tapped all of their Carcass veins, releasing their most domesticated album to date. The quartet used to be savage, unpredictable, sonically sloppy and reckless musicians. Their early approach to writing saw the group go toe-to-toe with the mighty Carcass, but Exhumed have now fallen back as Carcass admirers once again. It might be time for these guys to go to rehab with ‘Reek of Putrefaction’ and ‘Symphonies of Sickness.’ Exhumed fall more in line with what bands like the Black Dahlia Murder are doing, which to a lot of people, should be a warm welcome. Preference is everything.