When it comes to death metal, I’m by no means some sort of purist. Maybe that’s because whilst I am and have been more-or-less a fan of the genre as a whole for the last roughly 22 years, I don’t adhere to the sometimes-strict parameters put on the genre. There are always those pockets of fans in any genre of music, especially metal, that insist that any given band not stray in any way past the self-imposed boundaries set by the forefathers. I also evidently don’t listen to enough, nor do I actively search for new death metal, preferring to grab bands like Necrot or Gatecreeper once they’ve received enough accolades from outlets, I respect to check them out. Additionally, when the mood does strike, aside from the aforementioned contemporary death-merchants, I generally reach for the classics: Death, Entombed, Morbid Angel, etc.
Phelan, California death metal collective, Ruin have been releasing their particular brand of death metal going all the way back to 1991. After a long hiatus, they reformed in 2015, and have been putting out a ton of splits and singles since. Spread Plague Death (is there a more appropriate name for a death metal album in 2021? I think not.) their latest full-length, and third overall, checks all the boxes one could want, if one’s particular brand of death metal is of the old-school, unintelligible-grunts, down-tuned guitars, pummeling blast-beats variety, all wrapped with the prerequisite brutal song titles like Catatonic Vomit and Awaken Rotting Decay.
Spread Plague Death takes a bit to get going with some creepy, spoken-word, chant action before the brutality gets going at the 46 second mark of Intro-Antemortem Dead featuring a relatively crushing riff, with most certainly a dirty tone. The title track is up next, opening with some fucked up serial killer describing his heinous crimes, before the band blast into the song, which is a pummeling, old-school death metal fest, complete with belched, indecipherable lyrics, that I’m sure, as I don’t have a lyric sheet, describe all sorts of vile atrocities.
Murderous Delirium opens with a crunchy mid-tempo riff as ‘vocalist’ Mihail Jason Satan (MJS) grunts across the intro before the band once again take off to pummel-ville. Again, the guitar tone offered up by guitarists Carsten Brix and Bodybag is certainly grimy, crushing and is the sound a fan of this type of music would be excited about. Repulsive Universe Inside Nightmares (another winner in the song title department) is a rager, as is the aforementioned Catatonic Vomit, particularly the middle breakdown.
the production, guitar sound, pummeling drums, indecipherable, guttural vocals, the soundscapes, as well as the overall presentation, give the record a creepy, unsettling vibe…
Drummer D-Muerte‘s performance is of note as he too gives the fans what they’re looking for in old school death metal drumming. The soundscapes/spoken-word creepiness injected into the beginning of most of the tracks on Spread Plague Death by Scott Lee Martin and Alex Allenruso work well as segues into the horrendousness.
Other notable tracks for me are Ornaments Of The Flesh and Slow Degradation with their weird intro prior to destruction. Quietus ( Slit-Throat) has a nice lurching riff at the end, and Cosmic Vengeance (another great sing title!) is a late album, mid-tempo monster. Outro-Postmortem Dark has a great riff the band ride to Spread Plague Death‘s conclusion.
While I’m not the biggest fan of this particular brand of death metal, preferring slightly less brutality, and definitely fewer guttural vocals, those who love this style should be more than excited with Spread Plague Death. Not only does it hit the mark musically in the old-school-brutality department, the production, guitar sound, pummeling drums, indecipherable, guttural vocals, the soundscapes, as well as the overall presentation, give the record a creepy, unsettling vibe, giving Spread Plague Death, a unique take on an old-school approach.
Scribed by: Martin Williams