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The Rack is one of those forgotten classics that does not even get mentioned as one in magazines or on the Internet, but it's very important for the death metal in Europe, and remarkable for its unmatched brutality and doomy atmosphere.
Someone is able to say that it’s overrated and I cannot see the point in this affirmation. Undoubtedly, the biggest part of the notoriety of this album is from the ex- Pestilence mastermind presence; that Martin Van Drunen, that decided to leave the previous band to join Asphyx. Despite that, this album is a real massive attack of thrash/death metal in its most powerful form. At the time the combination, the mix of those two genres was perfect and somehow new. So, we start with a dark intro to fall into the hug of “Vermin” that suddenly explodes in all its fury and the massacre starts. The up tempo parts are extremely old school while Martin’s vocals are absolutely unmatchable for sickness and malevolence. They are still the same we could find in older Pestilence works.
The production is not perfect and the guitars sound is truly massive and covers a bit the double kick parts that surely deserved more attention to create a higher impact. Anyway, the snare drum is quite audible but everything here is done to be as morbid as possible. It’s not glam. It’s violence. The tempo changes are always behind the corner and the band alternates perfectly more “in your face” moments” to out of the blue semi mid paced sections that still manage to keep high the intensity of the music. “In Diabolical Existence” the major influences can be found in Obituary for the sludgy riffage and the doomy tempo. Here the vocals reach in the top for putridity. Martin never screamed like this before. The same thing can be said for “Pages In Blood” and the long title track. These are three asphyxiating examples of putrid, slow death metal. The lead lines by the guitars fill the air with a darker atmosphere that in many times is exalted by the grotesque slow march of the rhythmic riffage.
Anyway, even during these songs we can find faster sections. In the first two songs I cited, they are by the end and on the title track there are some tempo changes that bring them to life sporadically in the length. The Obituary’s influences are always truly heavy. Some synth parts add more darkness in this sound. “Evocation” seems that doesn’t want to take off in up tempo because it’s a continue alternation of semi faster tempo to the classic doom ones where the lead lines are truly dramatic and morbid. “Wastelands of Terror” is rightly put in the middle because it is faster and breaks a bit the doom side with faster tempo parts. The fast start of “The Sickening Dwell” fakes us for the up tempo and galloping riffage because it turns to be again sludgy with other more dynamic and fast sections. “Ode to a nameless Grave” is another mid paced, rotten track but this time is instrumental.
At the end I must recommend this album to the lovers of the classic sludgy and morbid death metal. It’s one of the sickest examples of this genre and surely worth more than just a listen, also for the incredible vocal parts by mighty Van Drunen. The only flaws are the production and maybe some too long doom sections that at the end can result a bit boring. But, apart from this I’m sure that by listening to these tracks, you will find a heavy dosage of morbidity.