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Put any average Thrash Metal or Hardcore punk record on. Switch it to 45, wait... no 78 speed and what do you get? That's right, Macabre, a mysterious three piece Chinese chicken meal from Chicago. One glance at the gnarly cover that is all at once gruesome and trippy, it's obvious that this isn't gonna be an ordinary Thrash listen. Macabre played an innovative blend of Thrash Metal, Death Metal and Grindcore at a time when the latter two genres where just trying on their first diapers. Sadly they never got the recognition that Napalm Death and Repulsion got. Maybe because only 996 of the original were pressed? Shame cuz this gem is one of the more unique pieces of vinyl surrounded by a mass of generic 'Tallica clones of '87.
This fine DIY release by Decomposed Records is the project of one Corporate Death. Mr C. Death plays tremelo riffs at an inhuman speed, never stopping to take a breath until he finishes telling the heinous stories of such infamous celeberties such as, Ed Gein and Son of Sam. The groundbreaking brutal (yet melodic in a demented way), tremelo riffs introduced by Death/Thrash pioneers Possessed, Kreator, Sepultura are incredibly well done and even sped up! Corporate Death's competent solos are icing on this delicous cake, uhhh, I mean childrens stew. Mr Death's very original vocal style, just like every thing else, sounds sped up as well. His voice is a long deep growl with high shrieks stabbed in between each lyric, very bizarre and effective. Mr C. Deaths childhood friends Nefarious and Dennis the Menace contribute a solid rythymn section with homeboy Dennis' accelerated to oblivion double bass drum attack annihilating pretty much 78% of hardcore/speedcore drummers out there, as well as giving Mr Wilson the occasional headache. It's actually incredible how powerful and tight this unknown band is. Hundreds of notes are played aggressively each minute with perfect time through a power hungry guitar tone, with double bass pounding a hole in your cranium. Production is pretty much flawless, rare with such a lowbudget recording.
No silly intros, Serial Killer gets things rolling with neck breaking riffs, nursery rhyme style, creepy lyric's and nightmarish vocals. Mr Albert Fish is a fine ode to the wonderful cannibal, more excellent thrashing as well as the FUCKED UP necro vokillz during the chorus. A collection of solos known as Mass Murder ends side 1. Side 2 starts with a bang. A machine gun full of nihilistic, pissed off sheer power and energy in onslaught about the terrific serial killer Son of Sam who wasted many disco sluts and Guido's. When Mr C. Death throws a heavy midpaced riff in, Dennis beats the double bass as if the song sped up. My kind of band. Hot Rods to Hell lets Nefarious take over vocal duties, and he sounds as messed up as Mr C. Death. Great nuclear war lyrics here as the band tackles the beloved subject (and hey what 80's band didn't?) Ed Gein is loaded with tasty top notch riffs played with the force of a hammer to the face.
Yep this is a high grade for an EP but it's a terrific introduction for this unique band as well as very consistent reminding Zombi of the holy grail of EP's: Haunting the Chapel. Like that EP Grim Reality is a Monsterous assault by talented musicians who push the extreme envelope, as well as thrash out chaos but don't let it control them. A pleasant surprise for Zombi and a hidden gem in a sea of mediocre bands, worth mentioning with your Scum's and Scream Bloody Gore's. What do you expect with a band who post Serial Killer facts on their liner notes? Bugged out to the max.
Macabre's debut is one of the strangest albums I've heard, and sounds different to pretty much anything. Sometimes it sounds like Death Metal, other times like grind, but most of the time it's more of a punkish thrash. The vocals go from a somewhat low growl, to squealing, sounding not dissimilar to a chicken. 3 of the 8 tracks (If you consider Mass Murder as 3 different tracks, it has three very different parts) are solos, one for guitar, one for bass, and one for drums, the lyrics are outright bizarre, but you should be able to see that from song titles like "Mr Albert Fish (Was Children Your Favourite Dish)". Quite simply, this album is far removed from everything that came before it and after it. This is an oddity.
While its strangeness is a proven fact, Grim Reality’s quality is a little bit in dispute. While it can be very enjoyable due to it always catching you off guard, it's also a frequent source of annoyance, due to either Nefarious or Corporate Death's vocals often being painfully windy and screechy. As I said, it's like a chicken, sneezing. Plus you'll always be confused as to what you're listening to, as songs will have a strongly death metal riff, followed by punky riffs, sounding similar to what grindcore would sound like if it was close to thrash metal rather than death. It is short however, and any annoyances that I've had are easy to look past for the 15 odd minutes this thing runs. But on the other hand you're not getting a huge amount of content, but it's an EP so what can you expect.
The album does have quite a few positives to even it out, firstly and most noticeably, it's not like anything anyone had released before it, offering up some high speed thrashy, grindy, deathy, whatever-the-hell-it-is metal. The songs are usually well written, with only a couple of riffs per song, but always thrown together in interesting ways, the solos are solid, and they are fun to listen to.
It is nicely produced, and as there are only three instruments, the bass is huge on both the instrument and the kick drums. This production helps you pick up what's going on with the music, because it's all quite weird, grinding and thrashing its way from track to track. As you can see from the solo tracks, the band can play, they're not exceptional, but they certainly know their ways around their instruments. The drummer Dennis the Menace (What a shitty fake name) is really the only dull member. And I use dull loosely because he is full of energy, and his double bass sounds massive, but he just doesn't have a huge bag of ideas. Again, the album is only 15 minutes long, so he won't be boring by the end; it only really hurts in the drum solo, where he kind of does one thing for 2 minutes.
Grim Reality is an interesting piece of metal, and is good in its own right, not just as a piece of history. While not my favourite album of all time, it's pretty high up there when it comes to EP's, I listen to this one far more than any of my other EPs. Highly Recommended.
What are four things this Chicago three-piece can say they’ve accomplished in their 18-year existence? To be labeled a cult band is quite endearing. To claim your own style of metal that hasn’t been a) copied to death, or b) dismissed is nothing to sneeze at. To still be kicking today is a challenge. To still be kicking today with your original members is virtually unheard of. For an arguable fifth element, no other band I’ve come across sounds like the bizarre, tongue-in-cheek entity whose main focal point of being is to limelight the vast array of delectable serial killers and mass murderers that have stalked the earth.
The odious three-way partnership of Nefarious, Corporate Death, and Dennis the Menace are responsible for over a hundred odes to the damnable, are influenced almost by as much punk and hardcore (heard most wholeheartedly in “Disease” on the Vinyl Solution pressing) as they are thrash, and are one of the few humorously-empowered bands that are actually taken somewhat seriously. Corporate Death has a master’s degree in treating lung sprains and is nimble enough on guitar to give Mike Scaccia pause, meanwhile Dennis is an unheralded turbine on double bass.
The six lovely songs on Grim Reality are as innocent as the infamous killers on the cover, and while they aren’t as musically or humorously charismatic as the tracks on their future full-lengther, still represent all that is right in the world of Macabre. “Serial Killer” begins with the momentum of most future Rigor Mortis tracks, a riffomatic twister pummeled with double bass that rests only when the track is over. Vocals screechy, vehement, and twisted mangle whatever intensity had escaped. “Mr. Albert Fish (Was Children Your Favorite Dish?)’s ardent, downhill spiraling main riff plows into a backing vocal-deranged chorus that will become another of the band's trademarks. “Mass Murder: 1. Sulfuric Acid, 2. Morbid Curiosity, 3)Lethal Injection” is more affectionately titled than the original (replacing the three with 1) guitar, 2) bass, 3) drums), but serves the same purpose of short bursts of instrumentation from each member…a harrowing solo that slices the air for Spanish-tinged bass work that builds to a jarring jolt of impressive percussion.
The vicious “Son of Sam” has no problem butchering a path for side two and the high-pitched picking and violent chorus throwing “Hot Rods to Hell” to the dogs. The frenetic battering of “Ed Gein” locks up the pace right up to the end. Each feature of this band pushes the boundaries of extreme, from the Uzi flow of the double bass to the berserk ranting that runs a gamut of inflectional anti-paradise.
In about two years, their debut lp, Gloom, would cement the band into a murder metal foundation that will carry them past the 20th century. On the amusing strength of “Trampled to Death” and “Holidays of Horror” they will make their name and distance themselves even more from metal most banal and uninteresting. Like ‘em or hate ‘em, one has to be impressed with their longevity, perseverance, and originality.