Drawn And Quartered – Return Of The Black Death Review

Originally written by Erik Thomas

I’ll admit it, I thought Drawn and Quartered’s last effort Extermination Revelry, was a pretty average borderline piss poor gurgling, brutal death metal prolapsed, despite the James Murphy engineering job. Now with their third album, this stalwart epitome of underground death metal has at last found something to hang their hat on; a fine album.

Even though still merely brutal death metal, D & Q seemed to have honed their songwriting and also seemed have finally taken notes from their peers and 2 of the scene’s more respected acts; Nile and Immolation. And while some may groan at the name dropping development of the band, it means that the result is tighter and more vicious and finally worthy of your time, even if unoriginal.

The apparent Nile element is more prevalent during the album’s solos and ambient slower passages, although the opening salvo of “Artisan of Mutilation” couldn’t sound more like Nile if it was embalmed and mummified, while the churning Immolation-isms rule over the album’s more dominant and dissonant yet malignant blast beats. The sloppy, continual blast beats of Extermination Revelry are now littered with swirling solos and lingering, malevolent slower grooves in the style of classic US death metal. The soft ethereal solos are similar to the recent Mithras offering, Worlds Beyond the Veil in that they seem detached and almost dreamlike compared to the feverish savagery of the majority of the material. Whereas the music of D & Q has improved greatly, unfortunately vocalist Herb Burke hasn’t caught up, as he has characterless, super low John McEntee/Ross Dolan almost spoken word delivery that lacks power, but granted suits the subterranean nature of the music.

“Orgiastic Feast of Excremental Blasphemy (Perversion Glorified)” immediately displays the band’s new found tightness and gives the first hint of the Nile/Mithras sound by way of the synth backed solo and subsequent beehive blast beat. The same smatterings of Middle Eastern sickness arise again during the blistering “A Forest of Gore”, and while the apparent esoteric solos don’t seem to fit the subject matter, they do add some eloquence to the brutality that’s been sorely missing from D & Q’s repertoire. The grinding “As Fools Fall” is a decimating nod to Immolation’s slower visage and is the album’s menacing highlight with its lumbering pace and crawling main riff, even an echo heavy Burke gets in on the song’s cavernous atmosphere. While D & Q are still somewhat lyrically challenged, their growth in songwriting can be heard during “On the Death Farm” and “Predatory Strangulation”, making up for their 1991 lyrics as the Arabic slithering of more brow raising solos belie a far more talented band than their zombie/gore fare. Still, compared to bands like Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation, D & Q seem far less technical and note laden, but instead direct and visceral-aided somewhat by a murky production that actually aids their sound.

Return of the Black Death is still not quite a must have, and D & Q aren’t quite ready to be elevated in the upper echelon of US death metal, but they’ve certainly risen from the gutter and delivered a surprisingly solid album that should appease fans of the usual US suspects.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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