Welcome back to Cappy’s Guttural Grotto of Cavemanic Barbarity…of Death…Metal: A harsh landscape where huge, percolating tar pits swallow triggered drums and corrupt glossy sheens with abscesses spurting syrupy filth. A primal terrain where Raw is Law, and brutality is born from bogs belching forth stone-faced golems pounding their way to primitive survival. A world that, oddly enough, seems to be getting more and more populated over the course of the last two years or so. Hell, at this point I’d even venture that our one-time relatively small infantry of brutes has swollen to the point where we might actually be able to take the stronghold occupied by the Technical Wizards who’ve maximized the death metal spotlight for some time now. Our burgeoning battalion of today is fronted by the likes of Funebrarum, Witchrist, Teitanblood, Cemetery Urn, Excoriate, Ignivomous, [insert name of any number of other acts currently bubbling to the surface], and they are all collectively hurling their stony fists directly into the face of all that’s spit-shined and punctiliously delivered from the more intricate end of the death metal spectrum. Which leads me into yet another addition to our Paleolithic Ranks: Australia’s purveyors of all that is putrid, The Dead.
Three Troglodytes bent on beating your eardrums to paste – that’s the short definition of this straighforwardly monikered band and their second full-length courtesy of the brand-walloping-new record label born from Diabolical Conquest ‘Zine. The simplicity behind the name is at least tolerably fitting, as there’s not much in the way of bells and whistles to be found on Ritual Executions. No lengthy samples or keyboard atmospheric fillers — just bulldozing guitar/bass (Adam Keleher), oodles of pummel-drumming (Chris Morse) and some seriously glottal vocals interspersed with scraping rasps (Mike Yee) directly from the album’s onset to its closing forty-sixth minute. The music itself, however, is not as elementary as it seems on the surface. Perhaps a far cry from, say, Decrepit Birth, sure, but I’d also say the comparisons I’ve read to the likes of Hooded Menace or Coffins is equally off the mark. Opener “Burn Your Dead” and “Centurion” are the closest ditties resembling what you’d expect to slowly shamble up from a glowing sewer grate, but the remainder of Ritual Executions features some surprisingly brutal flailing that trots alongside an ample prominence given to rutting out a nasty little groove.
As far as I’m concerned, the prized hog amongst the passel is “Cannibal Abattoir,” with its über irresistable toe-tapped drumming and Keleher’s murky slide-style of infectious riffing stealing the show. A close second goes to the savage attack of “Born In A Grave,” however, as it ferociously rips from the gate and features the album’s heaviest nod to Jeff Walker-styled raspy vox to better suit its speedy charge. And just try to keep the entire family from happily howling along in the car to this cut’s eventual Autopsy plod and bellow of “BORN…in a grave!” — that’s just good wholesome fun.
Also striking a satisfying mark is “Blood Angel,” a tune that exhibits a formidable doomy riff at its heart and strengthens the entire brew with a sweet little Bolt Thrower hack at its midriff before heading toward the album’s epilogue. And what an interesting curtain call “Death Metal Suicide” turns out to be. This deceptively titled little ditty culminates Ritual Executions by tossing the brutality and callousness built up by its predecessors in favor of closing the door with a 10-minute anomalous instrumental of smooth, back-porch-breezy fun. The record’s first real semblance of lead guitar relaxingly slips you into the lounger as playful drums and jazzy bass further ease the day’s troubles from your mind — certainly an adventurous way to end an otherwise assaulting record.
As a (continually) self-professed devotee of the style, I’m pleased to see this band forge ahead with each subsequent release to elbow themselves amongst the expanding ranks of furrow-browed Cro-Magnons currently dragging knuckles through the death metal ‘scape. Score one for the inaugural release from Diabolical Conquest Records: I say, long live The Dead.