Saturday, March 10, 2012

Digging into Exhumed

I made an attempt to see Exhumed live back in November and, at the time, was pretty thrilled with their latest record, All Guts, No Glory. Since then I've picked up four more records by the band and am looking forward to their next stop in the area, Death on the Vine, scheduled for April 14th. I believe I have collected every long-player the band has out with the exception of the Platters of Splatter collection and the band has been worming their way into my daily rotation with greater frequency across the last few weeks.

Literally everything I have ever read on the band describes Exhumed one of two ways: if positive, as "Carcass-worshipers" or, if negative, as "Carcass clones." Guess I need some more Carcass. Admittedly, all I have ever heard by Carcass is the used copy of Heartwork I bought in college and, frankly, haven't really played at all in the last 19 years or so.

For the most part, though, these guys - both fans and detractors - are probably right. There's not much that feels original - or even varied - about my retrofitted Exhumed library.  Meaty riffs, grindcore beats, guttural and unintelligible vocals juxtaposed with frenzied, growled (and nearly as unintelligible) vocals. I'll assume the lyric is gory as hell based on the song titles and artwork but, realistically, I cannot tell. I am very, very satisfied to simply settle into a relatively generic, albeit very well-done, groove for a few hours and just enjoy. I could not tell Anatomy is Destiny from Slaughtercult from Gore Metal and I do not care. Many years ago, before The Walking Dead ever hit TV and when blogging was called "Geocities," I maintained a little website dedicated to zombie films. I accumulated literally dozens of DVDs filled with undead gore and, while most of it was uninspired rehash and retread of everything that had come before, I never saw one I didn't enjoy (except maybe Shatter Dead...). Still, though, from time to time there would emerge from the endless reels of necrotic cannibalism a film with something extra (almost always from Lucio Fulci). All Guts, No Glory, now having gone more or less full circle through the band's discography, is Exhumed's The Beyond.

It may be the production. It may be the infusion of melodic leads and solos. It may be the precision and power of the drums. Then again, it may be - and probably is - a maturity and honing of songwriting as the band had taken a five-year or so hiatus since their prior record and, in the meantime, cooked up a veritable feast of gore. "As Hammer to Anvil," the record's first fully-realized number, is as good as any single song I have heard in the last year.

It's nice to just enjoy music that aspires to do nothing more than rock. It's even better when a band succeeds in that aspiration as well as Exhumed has on All Guts, No Glory. I don't necessarily care if it's original. And I'll likely never claim Exhumed are the best in any particular category or subgenre or my favorite anything, for that matter (I still gotta hand the gore crown for 2011 to Autopsy). Exhumed are, instead, purveyors of another great, fun set of records on my shelf and, like my Tombs of the Blind Dead box set, a reliable source of ambling, decrepit, bloodthirsty, tasteless entertainment.

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