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Exterminated - 100%

andersbang, June 8th, 2009

One of this scribe's biggest musical disappointments was not the split of the US war metal pioneers Angelcorpse, but rather their reformation. The reunion of the band was not the problem as such, however, the ensuing album release of "Of Lucifer And Lightning" (2007) was. "Of Lucifer And Lightning" was boring, had a thin sound, terrible production all around, and offered nothing of the musical excellence Angelcorpse's former work did. And that is the biggest problem with "Of Lucifer And Lightning": the unfulfilled potential. You see, Angelcorpse's three old albums are fucking huge and I consider them some of the best extreme metal ever released - and their impact on the war metal or black/death metal scene has been immense. I shall endeavor on reviewing the biggest, baddest and best of the Angelcorpse classics - the mighty "Exterminate"!

There is a reason Angelcorpse's genre is called war metal: because, and I know this is the cliché of all extreme metal, it sounds like fucking war! The pictures the soundscapes of "Exterminate" paint are that of a barren, ravaged battlefield, a world in which only fire, steel and ash exist. "Exterminate" opens with the insanely frenzied attack on everything ordered, holy and right in the stupidly violent track "Christhammer". This effort in violence goes on through all of the album, with one single intent: total annihilation of all. Here the drums aren't sticks on skins, but a 12,7 mm heavy machine gun that rips fist sized holes in humans and turns the bodies of angels into paste! The riffs are the engines of the war chariots and steel battle tanks that belch forth putrid smoke as they scourge the grey land and rip open sores in the ground with their iron tracks! The bass is the artillery beyond the horizon that shatters civilization, nature and Heaven alike! The vocals are malicious orders of command that send thousands into violent death! And the solos are flamethrowers that incinerate and immolate everything in their path and burn the fucking earth!

Angelcorpse's call to arms with "Exterminate" mixes classical archaic death metal in the vein of "Altars of Madness"-era Morbid Angel, speed/black/thrash metal of early Sodom, a bit of pure black metal (I always thought they had a certain Marduk ring about them, they certainly share the speed levels!) and a little grind inspiration for that extra bit of chaos that mainman Pete Helmkamp probably brought on from his former band, the death/black/grind cult act Order From Chaos (which is thoroughly recommended by the way).

The result is chaotic to say the least! The drums of John Longstreth (currently occupied in technical brutal death metal band Origin, and has also joined the reformed Gorguts) are frenzied beatings that seem to balance on the edge between control and chaos. He's blasting left and right with awe inspiring speed, but his chaotic fills and general skill ensure that no one is left bored. Guitarists Bill Taylor (who now is the right hand of the godlike Bob Vigna in the godlike Immolation) and core member Gene Palubicki lay down some of the best riffs I've ever heard. These are the red threads in the fire storm that is "Exterminate". It is a futile job to point out the best riffs on the album since the quality is so frighteningly high all around, but for the sake of completeness I shall advice you to check out "That Which Lies Upon", "Phallelujah", "Sons Of Vengeance", "Wartorn" and... Shit, that's already half the album and I was about to recommend the other half! Get them all! The riffage is instantly memorable, chainsaw-like in its intensity and with a wicked sense of melody. No chugging brootalness here! Not a fancy breakdown in sight!

While the riffing is incredibly well done, it fucking slays when combined with the solos! It sounds like mastermind Palubicki (OK, co-mastermind together with Helmkamp) has taken the works of a certain Mr. Azagthoth from a certain "Altars of Madness" album, turned them inside out and then played them at double speed! The solos soar at amazing speed, complexity and skill. These black little gems are scattered throughout the album, and while they aren't as numerous as the works of Morbid Angel, I actually find them better.

The bass, while heavy in the mix, isn't nearly as intense or interesting as the guitar or drum work; in fact it is quite anonymous. However, it does its job in creating a thick sound so that "Exterminate" doesn't sound like some ice-thin, shitty black metal record. Besides, Pete Helmkamp has more important things to attend to than fiddling around with his bass. Because throughout "Exterminate" he is busy spitting his guts out in some of the most infernal, blasphemeous vocal work ever! Existing exactly between the guttural death growl and the black metal scream, Helmkamp singlehandedly declares war on everything with his sick raspy shrieks. I fucking love it! Another really cool thing is that his vocals are actually understandable. It's not just noice, because Helmkamp has some points he wants to get out with.

And what does he 'sing' about then? Though the overall topics are similar, Angelcorpse doesn't deal with the usual "vomit upon the cross" (Belphegor), "hammer down the nails" (Vital Remains) or "death to Jesus" (Deicide) lowlife lyrics. Ranging from raging anti Judeo-Christianity, glorification of war, perverse sexual desires, extreme Darwinism and abhorrence of Human stupidity and conformity, Helmkamp has penned some of the best and most disturbing lyrics in metal ever;

"Awake! Sons of Vengeance rise / Rub the dust of twenty centuries from your eyes / Fashion your being: ploughshares into weapons of war / Today we conquer the Self - tomorrow the world"
- "Sons of Vengeance"

"Prostrate disciples of derisive subjection / Their spirits exude deification of defeat / A talisman profane - vile birthright borne / Enslaving vigour as if nailed to a cross / Scoff at this inheritance of wretchedness / The Daimons erect shatter shackles of deceit / Sons of Vengeance consecrate burning ways / Wolves no longer in the guise of the weak"
- "Christhammer"

Today, more than 10 years after its release in 1998, "Exterminate" continues to impress. The uncompromising work that has gone into all aspects of the album - artwork, lyrics, production and most importantly, the music - has really paid off. I must have listened to this album more times than I care to remember, and each time I am instantly at a loss for words. This album is in my top three of records of all time, and if you like extreme metal, it should be in yours, too.