Australia seems to have been producing some very original Death Metal bands over the last few years, and The Dead are another name to add to that brutally burgeoning list. Just in case you didn’t know, ‘Ritual Executions’ was originally released by the band themselves back in 2009 in an absurdly limited run, but this brand spanking new version was remastered by the fetid tentacles of Portal guitarist and nether-beast Aphotic Mote and is the very first release from new Indian label Diabolical Conquest. If you ask me, they couldn’t have chosen a better release with which to make their mark upon the world of metal, as ‘Ritual Executions’ is a total fucking Stoner-Death Metal MONSTER.
Far less overtly ‘tech’ than their 2008 ‘Nocturnal Funeral’ EP debut , ‘Ritual Executions’ is more of a bludgeoning instrument than a surgically precise scalpel attack, particularly in this newly remastered form. On the original version of ‘Ritual Executions’, the guitars were a little murky and the whole thing was slightly lacking in power – not so now, as the squirming appendages of Aphotic Mote have transformed those guitars into rusted, blood-encrusted killing technology and given the drums and ‘vokills’ a serious boot-up too.
Now, did you notice the omission of ‘bass’ from that last bit?
That’s right – The Dead have no bassist. Only guitar, drums and vocals.
Do they suffer from the lack of bass?
HELL NO. The guitar alone is thick, glutinous and nasty enough to carry things and not have you long for the presence of a bassist.
Opening track ‘Burn Your Dead’ rumbles along just dandy, spewing out noxious Stoner-Death Metal grooves and bestially guttural vocals over a rock solid backbeat by skinsman Chris Morse, who proves to be a nimble li’l minx, shifting as he does from a loping Doom groove on ‘Bury Your Dead’, to a tricksy, busy Today Is The Day style percussive-octopus glide that alternates with a hardcore steamhammer attack on second track ‘Cannibal Abattoir’, and giving us those INSANE Aussie blastbeats on the fierce schizophrenic blast-furnace that is ‘Born In A Grave’ , but all the while maintaining a stone GROOVE. No mean feat, and the guy does it with apparent ease. Talented bastard.
Axe-swinger Adam Kelcher is no slouch by comparison, though, no sir. His thick, ragged, glutinous guitar tone should be listed as a deadly weapon on the basis of this outing. It smashes your ears in like a slime-encrusted chainsaw and wreaks serious havok to your genitals while it’s there. I find myself reminded more of the brutal tone of Bloodlet, Autopsy, early Obituary and Sindrome here, not the glossy, polished guitar sounds of much modern Death Metal. The Bloodlet comparison finds its mark here, also, in the way Kelcher employs discords and odd phrasings in order to keep things moving and keep ’em interesting too. Hey, works for me! No Death/At the Gates worship on display here, instead we have swinging bluesy Stoner grooves on ‘Bury Your Dead’, ‘Centurion’ and ‘Blood Angel’ – which is a real stand-out for me due to the combo of filthy swinging groove, bluesy legato and skronky discord. Nasty. At times, the whole thing borders on the territory of filth-mongers like Unsane – on closing dirge ‘Death Metal Suicide’ most notably – and Coalesce – second track ‘Cannibal Abattoir’ does that headwrecking mathcore blur thang that Coalesce do so well, but in a dirty, more primitive form. Parts of ‘Cannibal Abattoir’ come off like a (relatively) slow-motion Discordance Axis sinking into a swamp.
Mention must, of course, be made of ‘vokillist’ Mike Yee, whose thickly guturral tones manage to match that nasty guitar tone in terms of sheer volume of FILTH. Alternating between full-on bestial growls and a throaty verging-on-Black-Metal howl, Yee bestrides every track like a fucking colossus, yet he knows when NOT to let rip. His restraint is admirable and allows some of the subtler guitar and drum interplay to shine through, where many a Death Metal hack would just growl wordlessly over anything that isn’t blistering riffage, Yee keeps his mouth shut. This economy of restraint means that when he DOES let rip after an instrumental break, such as on ‘Born In A Grave’, his beastly roar makes SO much more impact. Yessir, these three guys all know EXACTLY what the hell they’re doing, and by Crom does it show.
Now, if I had to pick just ONE track from this LP that exemplifies exactly what makes The Dead so damn GOOD – which is a TOUGH call – it would be, without hesitation, the title track, ‘Ritual Executions’. The whole track is like a showcase for the skill of the band as a whole and as individuals, showing you their entire hand, but compacted into just over four minutes of choppy riffing, psychedelic guitar breaks, octopoidal kit-abuse, blasting double-bass and just plain monstrous vocals.
The Dead have managed to effortlessly spew out some of THE best, most original Death Metal that I’ve heard in quite some time on ‘Ritual Executions’, so kudos to THEM and kudos to Diabolical Conquest for being smart enough to rescue this release from the cult oblivion it could SO easily have ended up in.
What are you sitting around reading this for now? Buy, buy, BUY!!!
Scribed by: Paul Robertson