November 14, 2013 | , | 4

Exhumed, Necrocracy

Exhumed: Necrocracy

Exhumed first released their debut album back in the late 1990s and since them have been haphazardly slinging bits of intestine, brain matter and other gorey items splattering across the death metal landscape. The group has always hinted at evolution, but haven’t really strayed too far until reaching this, their sixth album, that we see a shift in presentation. Oh, have no fear, Necrocracy still has plenty of rotten innards to spread around, but fans have so much more to enjoy this time around.

Gore, groove, melody and skillful precision dominate an album that hits hard and often with both ferocity and a catchiness that makes for one hell of an infectious listen — sort of like some nasty scabies-induced rash for your ears. I absolutely loved the bludgeoning ass-kicking that the band delivered for their resurrection (All Guts No Glory), but that record doesn’t stand a chance against the direction Exhumed are now heading. The combination of festering nastiness, malevolent aggression and catchy-as-fuck rhythms make for an album that is not only fun as hell to head bang to, but also one that is memorable.

“Coins Upon the Eyes” starts the album off with a vengeance, wasting no time for pretense. Rabid drum work courtesy Mike Hamilton shifts into a galloping groove as Rob Babcock’s rumbling bass rolls — for having only been in the band for a couple of years, the pair impress with their debut. The duo combine for some seriously destructive moment throughout the album, yet also deliver some of the more memorable chug and groove I’ve heard all year. Both founding member Matt Harvey and Bud Burke (who used to be the band’s bassist in the early days) combine for massive riffage, searing lead work and a dual vocal attack that drips vitriol.

The band’s evolution is on full display with “The Shape of Deaths to Come,” as manic blasts help punctuate, searing leads, melody and groove-fueled riffing. It’s a meaty song with much more dynamic elements than we’re used to from the band. It’s a defining moment for the band. The title track is catchy as fuck as well, with beefy guitar work and catchy chorus. “Dysmorphic” leans heavily on the deeper vocal range while Harvey explodes with his mid-range viciousness to punctuate. This is another killer song that is heavy as hell until, wait a minute, is that an acoustic guitar!? The dramatic shift provides an eerie interlude before the guys dive back into the graves.

Other standout songs on one of the best death metal albums this year are the absolutely raging “Sickened,” the d-beat driven “(So Passes) The Glory of Death,” and the frenzied attack of “Carrion Call.” Exhumed stretch their melodic muscles a good deal on album closer, “The Rotting,” but don’t let it go to theirs heads as the song still carries a bruising groove and vicious vocal work.

Necrocracy is a great album not only in terms of musicianship, but also in terms of the band’s growth. Three quarters of the group weren’t in the line-up on All Guts No Glory and yet they sound as though they’ve been playing together and pushing themselves and their music hard for decades.