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Picture a sad clown shot in the face - 83%

Gutterscream, June 22nd, 2005

“…a bullet in my head, my life has turned to shit…”

Post Mortem is a strange band that in all logic should never have landed a record deal. With “Ready to Die” and “Armies of the Dead” landing on various compilations, the quartet proved their affinity for dingy, unkempt quasi-thrash that breathed with an odd wind of energy that is part pseudo-hardcore, part puzzling doom, and part goofball. For some it worked, for some it fizzled, but at least salute their experimental hybrid that doesn’t seem at all coerced, contrived, or counterfeit. What I always found endearing is the band’s penchant for jest, competence for catchiness, John McCarthy’s throat-blistering caws, and John Alexander’s unexpectedly sincere, yet handicapped solos.

The short and unsweetened “Armies of the Dead” launches the lp with a strange burst of mid-tempo urgency, then moves into the methodical world of catchy “Waiting for the Funeral” that centers around a broken-riffed chorus. Enlivening the pace is “Ready to Die”, possessor of another addictive chorus, cool main rhythm, and starts to solidify the band’s yen for memorable songwriting. The first waves of straight doom trudge forward at the start and in-between breeches of speed in “No Time”. Conflicting with these edge-of-the-realm momentums is a weird languishing chorus that harbors an impassioned solo with an almost bumbling intricacy, and you actually find yourself rooting for the guitarist ‘cause it’s as far from a typical thrash, doom, or hardcore solo as you can find. “Concealed” dispatches the fickle style of the previous track, full-blown with noisy high hat-wrecking drumwork and an unfaltering speed. A demented carnival passes the band as they belt out the plodding opening notes of “(It Was) Just a Thought”, a dirge that speaks of putting your foot in your mouth to the wrong people and the action’s dire consequences. McCarthy hurls his biting narrative, the apparent absence of a chorus doesn’t hurt the track, and the lethargic pace is cast in cement right to the side’s end.

More slapstick hoopla in the form of “Syncopated Jazz” and “Soupy Sales” squirts water into the eye of side two, and then collides with the rather uneventful and basic title cut. Saving this is more doom burdened with a barrage of chrome-peeling screams at the start and middle of “Death to the Masses”, lumbering out of chaos like a third cousin of Hellhammer’s horrific “Triumph of Death”. A catchy and simplistic main riff overcomes the lethargy in long passages, surrenders to a quick kick-start of speed, then more gloom threaded with a heartfelt solo. As well, the iron grip of gloom crushes the start of “I Want to Die”, lyrics screech painfully, and it’s a wonder McCarthy’s pipes haven’t erupted in vibrating meltdown by now. Here comes Alexander with another slow, earnest, and affectionately clumsy solo. Too long for its purpose, the track finally dies out and is immediately pounced upon by the curt “Run Amok”, a throwaway track that serves no purpose other than to nullify the plod of the last two tracks.

In certain circles, Post Mortem and its debut has risen to cult stature, remindful of Macabre in humor and camp, and is a lesson in how coarse, uncharacteristic, and ungraceful metal can be, and with all the doom inspiration here, it’s difficult to call this a true thrash effort. Don’t look at me…I don’t know where to stick it either.