Originally written by Michael Roberts.
If you’ve never acquainted yourself with Impaled’s brand of gore-inspired, thrashy death metal, then The Last Gasp is as good an album to start with as any. Considering that this is their fourth full-length, that’s saying something for the band’s consistency and reliability. From start to finish The Last Gasp is a fantastic listen, with songwriting chops to burn. Sure it’s fast and brutal as necessary, but it’s also got a healthy and absolute welcome dose of melody, hooks and old-school riffing to create a very dynamic album. The composition of this platter is such that every song is memorable and sharp as a tack, leaving no room for mucking around. All I can say is, if you’re in need of a band that can masterfully combine the technicality and speed of modern death with slamming old school grooves, you may find Impaled have birthed one of the year’s superior death metal albums in The Last Gasp.
Try as I might, I could not find any tracks I didn’t find enjoyable on The Last Gasp. With the up-tempo “G.O.R.E” having kicked off proceedings in no-nonsense fashion, the brilliantly-titled “The Visible Man” recalls mid-era Carcass as only these guys can, with a spot-on interplay between heaviness, melody and groove. “You Are the Dead” features classic-sounding, dual guitar melodies over the galloping drums (and some tasty soloing to boot). “All Gut, No Glory” is one of the disc’s most brutal tracks, with a slow, slithering riff and those ultra-guttural vocals at the forefront. And check out the superb, thrash-style breakdown which fades out the track after a hilarious-yet-disturbing death gurgle. “Up the Dose” (speed-metal par excellence), “Right to Die” (with riffs and tempo shifts to umm, die for), and “Dawn of the Dread” (featuring brief but effective use of synths) are standouts of an equally strong second half.
The production on Impaled’s last release, Death After Life, was a bit contentious with some, but I can’t see the same happening with The Last Gasp. The album has a warm, thick sound that has just enough polish while retaining the raw edge so suited to the band’s vibe. Musically, the performances here are as good as you’d expect from a group this well-trodden, and the repertoire these guys now boast is impressive. There really isn’t much left to say about Impaled’s latest. It’s another quality album from a band clearly in this game for the long haul. For those who have just about had enough clinical tech-death to last you the rest of the year, give these guys a listen. You’ll discover a band more than capable of delivering the speed and brutality this genre requires, while also incorporating hooks, melodies and rhythmic diversity to flatten you with some of the catchiest, dare I say rocking death metal tunes this year.