without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Mark Riddick is easily considered one of the veterans in death metal, not only with the death and horror-inspired artworks that he has contributed to so many bands over the years, but also in all the bands that he has been involved in, especially the brilliant Fetid Zombie. Unburied is yet another band that he is in, with Murder 101 being the band’s sophomore release and with excellent releases from Fetid Zombie, I had rather high expectations for this release, promising to be a old school release with no holds barred.
The murderous intent is rather clear as the album opens with an ominous atmosphere on Trapped in a Delusion, but unfortunately as the album begins proper things are rather disappointing. Sure, the riffs that are on the album are heavy as fuck, and old school as hell as well, with a rather groovy feel incorporated into the music, but for some reason pretty quickly the entire album starts to become a drag, and all the songs on the album start to sound rather similar to each other. This especially so with the mid-pace that the band tends to go at for the entire album, and the repetitive riffs that are used on most of the tracks. For instance, right from the opener Trapped in a Delusion the entire song simply revolves around that one riff, played over and over again, and one finds himself drifting away very quickly. And the entire album pretty much makes use of such similar methods.
To the band’s credit though, the instrumentation especially Brian Forman’s drumming is one of the few redeemable points of the album, providing some fireworks to the otherwise rather boring experience, like on songs like Stalked, Fucked and Buried, which is perhaps one of the better tracks on the album which stood out from the rest of the tracks, sounding like a mix between Cannibal Corpse performed in the Swedish fashion of bands like Grave or Bloodbath. The vocals unfortunately fall flat as well, and while the growls are nothing particularly special, the pseudo-shrieks on songs like I’m Going to Fuckin’ Kill You sound out of place. The ever-present bass, while often a good thing, sound like a bug buzzing around the entire time, and gets pretty irritating after some time as well.
Honestly, I have nothing but the utmost respect for personalities in extreme metal like Mark Riddick. Unfortunately, Unburied‘s Murder 101 sounds like a rather uninspired record despite a few moments of goodness here and there, sounding as though the band were simply going through the motion, releasing a death metal record for the sake of it.
As open-minded of a guy as I am, with a vested interest in many genres of music and especially sub-genres of metal, every now and then there's a release which comes along and gets under my skin: and not in a good way. Unfortunately, for Virginia's Unburied and their sophomore outing Murder 101, this was indeed the case, and I found it torturous to sit through this the acceptable number of times that I usually take to fashion my observations into a written opinion. Now, let me clarify first: this was a band from another age, formed in the 90s, and some of their primitive approach to brutality carries through from this simpler time period. I have no real issues with music of such a neanderthal nature, nor can I persecute Unburied for its heavily misogynist lyrics and themes (let's just say the cover is indicative of a lot of the album's inspiration). Cruelty of this nature is a common trope among many brutal death & grind acts, and if you're not used to it by now...there's always brostep? Granted, the band themselves might not hate women, but this album most definitely fucking does. Murder 101 does not pull any punches, and some will appreciate such defiance.
The album is being branded as death metal, and certainly that's a large part of what's going on, with some faster based riffing segments, old school chugging, and a production on the guitars that definitely reminds me somewhat of that old Morrisound tone so popular among Floridian bands of olde. That said, I also heard a lot of hardcore influences in the leaden, unflinching simplicity of the groove riffs, and especially in the gruff lead vocals, which have a sort of thuggish inflection I equate with East Coast bands like Sheer Terror or Blood for Blood from the 90s. This isn't necrophiliac gore & guts, but more of a wifebeater brand of death metal which attempts to deliver maximum punishment through minimum riffing. And this is where my major issue with the album comes in: the note progressions almost 100% suck. Seriously, such dreadfully mediocre patterns in the breakdown riffs that they're often just two chords bouncing back and forth ("Trapped in a Delusion" and the title track "Murder 101" are two offenders), preschool punishment that I wouldn't find funny or interesting if I were to assume even the most ironic stance. In the band's defense, the aforementioned tracks are some of the worst here; others pummel along with a lot more intensity...
...and yet those, too, are incredibly underwhelming in construction, even in the most clinical thunder-chug thrashings of "Heartless Corpse Defilement" or the uppity punkish chord configurations embedded into the song "Witchburner". Not a single damn riff sequence on this entire 30 minute album was remotely compelling, and there's really no compensation anywhere. Not in the banal, predictable NYHC meets NYDM grooves, nor the spurious use of samples. The drumming is decent enough, with a nice slappy snare sound that functions adequately against the broiling guitar, and the bass guitar has a nice pop to it which reminds me of NY thrash bands like Anthrax, but neither is performing anything interesting enough to ignore just how vapid a reaction I had to the riff set. It's not the worst album I've heard by a long shot, and the band at least keeps the tracks concise enough that they don't drag on forever. They showed up, and they played. I guess in the end, I get what Unburied were trying to pull off here, a totally stripped down return to their roots and a total 'I Don't Give a Fuck' attitude. An approach that might warrant some consideration elsewhere, but I really think it would leave a bigger impact with better plotted songwriting. Wasn't my thing.