Oh boy do I love a split release! You get two bands for the price of one all in a neat little package. It’s also a great opportunity to check out some new music if you haven’t heard either of the groups. One of my favourite splits was released last year and was from two killer players in the ugly death metal scene, Undeath and Devoid Of Thought. So when I got the chance to review a new split from two huge death metal groups in Exhumed and Gruesome, who are on a gigantic label like Relapse Records, I jumped at the opportunity. The Split was released on the fifth of June and features incredible artwork that amalgamates the artworks from both groups latest releases, Exhumed’s 2019 slaughter-fest Horror and Gruesome’s stomping 2018 release Twisted Prayers.
The split features five brand new tracks, three from Exhumed and two by Gruesome. It kicks off with San Jose’ sadistic morticians Exhumed ready to hack, maim and saw through every limb within the near vicinity. If you’re not familiar, then you just need to see the lunatic surgeon that accompanies them on stage with a chainsaw to know what you’re getting into. Opener Rot Your Brain kicks off with buzz-saw guitars alongside maniacal drums and snarled growls from front man Matt Harvey. There’s even a few cheeky pinch harmonics, Zakk Wylde will be requesting a credit for the use of his patented move. Every note on Rot Your Brain is designed to peel the skin from your face and melt your brain until it drains out of your nose, with killer hooks and lethal riffs. This shit should come with a health warning.
After I mop up the mess from track one, I’m disintegrated by the vicious opening to Buried To Die. The song is two and a half minutes and is a veritable feast of blast beats and solos. The whole thing has a very Carcass esque feel to it. With the Jeff Walker influenced vocal snarls and the crunching Bill Steer style riffage, Exhumed are paying homage to the very best. Some of the low gutturals even remind me of Sven from Aborted.
Dead, Deader, Deadest finishes off the Exhumed half of the split and starts with some ludicrous guitar noodling before laying waste with their trademark blasts and gutturals. The track features a murderous breakdown around the minute and a half mark and abruptly ends just in time for Gruesome to pick up the rusty nail filled ball and plunge it straight into our faces. All the influence coupled with Exhumed’s own twisted sound come together to produce a really professional output and any of these tracks could have easily been slotted into their last full length. It’s a killer opening half of the split.
[Dead, Deader, Deadest] features a murderous breakdown around the minute and a half mark and abruptly ends just in time for Gruesome to pick up the rusty nail filled ball and plunge it straight into our faces…
Miami, California’s Gruesome were explicitly created to be a tribute to the legacy of Floridian death metal icons Death, whether it be in their artworks, logo or in their sound. The group also features Exhumed’s Matt Harvey pulling double duty on vocals and guitar as he does with the former.
The first track from Gruesome on offer is A Mind Decayed, five and half minutes of down tuned old school death metal worship. Funnily enough the first thing that popped into my head wasn’t the influence from Death, rather another Floridian death metal icon, Obituary, and their classic record Cause Of Death. The riffs are that little bit slower and are coupled with these nasty ass slow low tempo drums that Obituary were famous for. The track has these killer tom rolls all over it and the production is brilliant. It has that raspy edge making it sound like it’s been pulled straight out of the 90s. The track also has an incredible solo that sounds like it’s ripped from a Morbid Angel record. I just love all of the throwback sounds and having it produced by a modern band makes it that extra bit special.
A Mind Decayed comes to an abrupt end and Gruesome lay the final slab of flesh on the surgeons table, titled Led Into The Dark. It’s more OSDM and you can hear Obituary again, this time in the vocals. They’ve got that elongated snarl that Obituary’s John Tardy is famous for and I love every second of it. The vocals are spewed out and are coupled with this killer snare tone…head-banging is mandatory.
The only problem with splits, by their nature, are short, usually an EP’s length and I was enjoying this so much I wanted more. These two should do more stuff together, they share members and they just go so well together. I had an absolute ball listening to and reviewing this record and I believe you will too. You best head to the pharmacy and get yourself some bandages, disinfectant and most importantly a fucking mop because that sadistic surgeon is on his way. He’s coming for you and he’s gonna make a mess.
Scribed by: Matt Alexander