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Transitional - 59%

robotiq, May 9th, 2021

"The Blueprints for Madness" is a difficult one. This is the heaviest and most extreme Deceased ever got; a pure old school death metal album released after such things had lost favour. The production is raw and lively. King Fowley's drumming is sometimes mesmerising, note how he builds the tension for the intro of the opening track ("Morbid Shape in Black"). The guitars cut through like chainsaws and the overall sound is more violent than any of the cookie-cutter death metal of the mid-90s. Unfortunately, this sound and aesthetic doesn't suit Deceased well. They are a subtle band, and the approach they took with this album doesn't play to their strengths.

There are two perspectives on this album. Both have merit. One perspective is to see this as some kind of death/grind anomaly in the band's catalogue. The other is to see it as the template for their next album ("Fearless Undead Machines"). On the former, this feels more like a typical 'Relapse' record than any other Deceased material. There is a little more grit than there was on the debut. It sounds a little more streetwise. There is more grindcore and blasting than we’re accustomed to hearing from Deceased. I remember hearing "Alternate Dimensions" on a magazine sampler CD at the time. I thought it sounded like Brutal Truth ("Need to Control"-era). The speed, visceral extremity and alternating high/low vocals felt much more like death/grind than anything else.

Elsewhere, the band plays through the typical horror movie staples. There are some film samples and some of those creepy 'walking down the dark hallway' riffs, intended to echo equivalent moments in films. Some songs sound like rough-cuts for songs on the next album, the aforementioned "Morbid Shape in Black" being the best example. There are a couple of songs that sound good in their own right. My personal favourite is "The Triangle", which is the best tribute to Chicago-style death metal I have ever heard. Master, Deathstrike, Devastation and (early) Sindrome are never far from my thoughts when I hear this song. The drumming is particularly similar to Master. This may be the simplest song on the album, and certainly the most potent.

Still, no-one will tell their grand-kids about this record. Everyone forgot about it once "Fearless Undead Machines" came out, which took the innovations from here and connected them with the band’s earlier material. "The Blueprints for Madness" is a transitional, messy record with too many lifeless songs. Listening to the whole fifty minutes is difficult, almost impossible. The biggest flaw with this album is how joyless it sounds. I can’t square this joylessness with what I like most about other Deceased material. Part of the magic of this band is the sense of fun they bring. This sludgy, gloomy record is no fun at all.

The blueprints for success - 84%

Feast for the Damned, November 25th, 2019

I consider the 2nd Deceased album to be the fine line between the first album and the latter ones. It still resembles the death metal elements of Luck of the Corpse, but the thrash metal style is starting to sneak back to their sound. Having this in mind, I still couldn't decide if I liked the album or not. Luckily after approximately 7 listens in a row, I realized how wonderful this record is.

This record changes up the band's sound just as much as Birth By Radiation did. They started to implement atmospheric elements (and I'm a sucker for that when it comes to Deceased) which weren't included in any of their previous efforts. King also happens to give us two more unique things about this release. He is using the demented screaming vocals that he would be known for and the previous growls are nowhere to be found. He also gifted us with one of the nastiest drum tones there is. It is in front of all the instruments in the mix and its loud nature adds even more to that.

The album comes packed with riffs for days and this is especially true for the first half of the album. The galloping drums start Morbid Shape In Black fittingly. It unleashes complete madness accompanied by some guitar parts that are just as haunting as the vocals that follow them. The muffled sound of the guitars, occasionally, burst through the wall of sound that is the drumming with some solos, but by the end of the song, it seems that the chaotic riffs got organized and delivered some subtle melodies just so 30 secs later they could surprise us with even more head-ripping riff goodness. This is the type of song that you can't find on any of the later albums. The Triangle and Mind Vampires are also representing this group with their, dare I say, grind-ish edge.

On the other hand, there are songs here that lean towards the band's later sound. Death metal elements hinted here and there, but mainly relying on the thrash and speed metal style. That being said the grindcore-ish sound still managed to sneak into some of these songs, but it's not that relevant. A great example of this group is Island of the Unknown which might just be my favorite track on here. It's aggressive (just as everything else on here to be honest), but at the same time, it manages to put down some insane pieces of guitar work. One example would be the part at 2:05 since it gives a whole new layer for the song. Not to mention the way King is dueling himself by changing from the deeper almost guttural voice to the high pitched shrieking. Some unorthodox riffing can also be found on this album (at least from a death/thrash perspective). Take Midnight for example, the way it starts is all over the place, but I was expecting everything but the chorus part. It has implemented keyboards in a haunting, non-irritating way and the riff just sends shivers down my spine.

So far I mentioned how the album mashes a bunch of different genres together at points, but that's not the only interesting feature it has (although it is the most remarkable). This is where the band realized that they should use samples and keyboards as intros for songs more often and boy, was it a good idea! The atmosphere is not as relevant yet as it would be on Fearless Undead Machines, but some songs just nail it completely. The Creek of the Dead is a shinning example if we are talking atmosphere. Keyboard intro? Check! Vocalist doing a spoken-word intro? Check! What else do you need for an incredible atmosphere? Riffs of course, but as you probably guessed it by now, this record doesn't lack those by any means.

The thing that I find less likable about the record is luckily a lesser issue: it's way too long for this material. While the songs are good for the most part, there are a couple (mainly from the death metal leaning ones) that tend to blend a bit too much and since the album is more than 50 minutes long this happens more than once. It's kinda nitpicky, but if there was a little bit more variety in these songs then I'm pretty sure they could have filled out the entire 52 minutes long playtime (although probably not with ease like Fearless Undead Machines did).

Overall not only is this album important for the band's progression in terms of their style, but it's also a huge improvement from Luck of the Corpse. It's unique in the sense that it has a bunch of things from both worlds (those being their later and their earlier sound) and this is why it's such an enjoyable record to listen to.

The highlights of the album are Midnight, Island of the Unknown and Into the Bizarre.

No privacy at the mental health zoo - 81%

Acrobat, October 20th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2011, CD, Sevared Records (Reissue, Remastered)

Deceased have always existed on the periphery of the death metal scene and their music has always had a touch of the unfamiliar when it comes to what’s expected from the genre. Certainly, Deceased have those deathly aspects but their debut was possessed by more than a twinge of German thrash (weirdly enough, reminding me of Protector more so than any more well-known band) and the albums after this have plenty of nods towards classic metal what with all the twin guitar harmonies. The Blueprints of Madness stands as perhaps the band’s strangest work; with a fair bit of weirdo grind influence (I’m thinking along the lines of Impetigo and Macabre here), but still, there’s something very uncanny going on here with their unlucky corpse having been struck by lightning once more, reanimating it for another dose of horror.

The production here tends to be a point of contention for most; it’s a bit muddy and some of the guitar frequencies seem somewhat blurred. Still, I’ve got no real qualms with it. Its gloominess is highly appropriate for the material at hand and King’s drums have a real energetic quality (just listen to them jump out at you on the intro of ‘Island of the Unknown’). Apparently, the studio didn’t really have much of an idea of what to do with a death metal band and as such the end result is somewhat unique. Compared to what Scott Burns was producing at the time, it’s certainly rough around the edges but it adds to that lo-fi horror quality that Deceased have always had. The problem would be that the lead guitars sometimes lack a bit of clarity and the melodies aren’t as apparent as they would be on subsequent albums. Again, this might be a point of contention, but I’m quite sure that this adds to the overall madness of this album.

Song-wise, this is quite the portmanteau of horror tales as Deceased have always delivered. It almost goes without saying that Deceased sing about horror movies and literature, I mean, they’re a death metal band, right? It’s almost as redundant as saying “Deceased sing about death”. But still, I think there’s something quite notable about their presentation and attention to detail here. Deceased are a highly evocative band and I don’t think I’ve heard many death metal bands who are quite as potent. My mind tends to wander to autumnal graveyards and lonely rooms in mental hospitals. Whereas your average death metal is morbid Deceased are unsettling and some of the atmospheres they craft are really harrowing. Let’s take ‘The Creek of the Dead’ for an unusual example; the chiming melotron passages are something you might expect to find on a Cathedral record and decidedly not on your graveyard-variety death metal album. It would seem that Deceased simply pay a bit more attention to their craft and the atmospheres they create than just simply banging on about morbid themes. It makes things a little more depraved. There’s a feeling of creeping dread in their music that doesn’t often come so strongly in music.

There’s nothing orthodox here, I’d say; creepy melodies, unconventional vocals (just take the backing vocals in title-track which sound like they’ve come from the trapdoor in Evil Dead), rattling cymbals and boxy toms. I think this is really what keeps me coming back to this record; it’s not Deceased’s strongest effort, but it is their strangest, which makes it really rather inviting. Pretty much everything Deceased have done is great (I think their weakest is probably Fearless Undead Machines which happens to be a lot of people’s favourite, so perhaps that’s a reflection of my own quirks) and I’d happily recommend this to anyone who’s interested in death metal that strays from the norm. Certainly, this is an album whose rewards one can come to appreciate more with time, so I’d recommend spending a good few ghastly hours with the The Blueprints for Madness.

Howls from an unsanitized sanitarium - 77%

autothrall, October 12th, 2012

As crucial as Deceased's sophomore full-length was to the development of their later works, The Blueprints for Madness might better be dubbed 'The Blueprints of Better Albums to Come'. For while its riffing variation and the horror-borne atmosphere through the album are nearly as potent as its successor Fearless Undead Machines, the production here pretty much kills the deal, holding it back from that plateau of greatness they've since achieved and, in my humble opinion, never stepped down from. It isn't that this album lacks charisma, but the guitar tracking in particular leaves much to desire, and I'd almost love to hear a remix of Blueprints. Keep the music, toss in better leads, and certainly keep the incredible Wes Benscoter artwork (one of his finest), but fix that ugly tone...

This is not quite the refined, melodic Deceased many will recognize from records like Surreal Overdose and Supernatural Addiction, with all the tasty speed metal flurries and British influenced harmonies, but you get a lot more of their punk, hardcore, splatter-thrash and even a tint of grind, all brought forth from the 1991 debut Luck of the Corpse. Tunes like "Into the Bizarre" bring out a lot of the early Voivod circa 1984-1986, though not quite so eerie or dissonant in terms of atmosphere. Even a few, slower, dreary, doom-inflected guitars show up. King's vocals are at their roughest here, from his usual haughty barks and vapid, mournful refrains to more directly harrowing growls and rasps level with the other extreme metal of the mid-90s (some provided by Les, the bassist). The drums have a pretty organic mix, lots of power to the fills and a very blocky sounding kick drum that manages to present itself despite the smudge of the guitars. Bass is pretty good, and the leads slice through the mix with a decent effect, but the rhythm tracks sound far too muddy and indistinct and they're hands down my least favorite elements...

It's not that you can't make out most of the notes, or even all the notes, but they just sound so cruddy to my ears. When the band is churning out an accelerated rhythm in basic punk/grind chord progression like in the calamitous "Alternate Dimension", it doesn't make much of a difference, but when they hit the slower palm muted power riffs it's fairly repulsive, and not in a positive way. It seems like a conscious decision, too, because it's not like the rest of the instruments and the vocals sound so underwhelming; in particular there are sequences where Fowley is barking out some insane line with just enough reverb that it sounds truly ominous. No, it's just a pretty fledgling tone that suffocates the note patterns rather than letting them breathe and sear themselves into the listeners' memory. Not that the drums and bass sound exemplary, they're vaguely demo level in depth, but the fusion of deeper, surgical thrashing guitars and corroded meathook chugs deserved a little more polish.

Otherwise, the lyrics and concepts behind the songs here are classic sci-fi weird/horror which Deceased have proven one of the best at translating into the medium. As with the later albums, Fowley really gets into character, and each piece feels like a 'story', often told from a first person perspective, which draws my imagination back to late nights watching films on the TV horror block which were morbid and memorable despite a lack of budget. Synthesizers, samples and other orchestration appear sparsely throughout the 52 minute run-time, always contributing atmospherically even where they lack fidelity. The Blueprints for Madness is no slouch when it comes to composition: there are tons of riffs erupting everywhere, all of them varied, and many quite good, but the production doesn't allow them to reach their full, terrifying potential. The Virginians seem to possess a curious, linear progression in terms of their records' quality, and this one definitely inches beyond the debut, but they would only keep improving after this; and for that reason, even if this is well above average, I rarely break this out over Fearless Undead Machines, etc.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Into The Bizarre - 77%

televiper11, March 15th, 2012

Deceased is a band who often slipped through my fingers. I remember seeing ads for their albums around the time Fearless Undead Machines came out and thinking "Damn, I need check these guys out" but it never happened. For whatever reason, other bands came to dominate my thinking and whenever Deceased crossed my mind, I amended my intentions to hear their classic records but somehow they escaped my priorities notice. Sometime last year The Blueprints For Madness finally fell into my lap and I gave it a listen with no expectations, remembering only how much the album artwork creeped me out as a kid. Based on those ancient Relapse magazine ads, the cover artwork, and my general assumptions about death metal at the time of this release, I was expecting some fairly standard heavy chugging death metal. I was completely unprepared for the manic, unhinged and disturbed Repulsion-esque sounds that vomited forth from my headphones. The Blueprints For Madness is an aptly-titled record.

"Morbid Shape In Black" rolls out an ominous, cavernous intro with grating white-noise guitar chugs, an eerily somber guitar solo, and rolling drum fills to get your head nodding. This is a magnificent, atmospheric beginning to what quickly devolves into a maelstrom of scintillating, hyper-spastic death-thrash. Suddenly, on a dime, the band goes crazy: frenetic fret-work, off-time blasts, and alternating vox that run the gamut from deep grunts to grating shouts -- delivering frantic dive bombs of restless energetic enthusiasm while creepy samples from obscure horror films send chills down the spine. The playing is loose and furious, a combination rare in a genre so often regimented into lock-step precision. Like Repulsion (who's clearly their biggest influence), Deceased sound like hyper-caffeinated horror buffs channeling their inner-Slayers.

The songwriting continues along similar lines: "The Triangle" hits skate-punk notes, has a hardcore breakdown circa '88, and finishes with a gorgeous horror film piano score over mid-tempo death chugs. Another favorite is "The Creek Of The Dead" with its Goblin style operatic horror score opening beneath King Fowley's hoarse spoken word narration of looming evil segueing into Scream Bloody Gore-like primitive death-thrash. Each track is its own bubbling stew of caustic death, thrash, grind, punk, and crossover influences. Deceased certainly aren't afraid of sounding different and their ranging, slightly sloppy style may be off-putting to some but personally I find it quite invigorating. Sometimes their ideas get the better of them and some songs are perhaps a touch too patchwork for their own good but overall this is a strong adrenaline shot of fascinatingly different death metal.

Unfortunately, the production on this record isn't very good. The drums dominate at the cost of other instruments. And though Deceased is very much a rhythm driven band, it would help if their guitar tones weren't so paper thin. With a fuller dynamic range, this record's musical themes and ideas would translate a little easier. The vocals are expertly handled however and despite all faults The Blueprints For Madness does capture Deceased's uniquely unhinged and energetic brand of chaotic death-thrash.

One of Their Best Releases - 92%

thrashtildeath22, June 27th, 2008

Deceased's 1995 release, "The Blueprints for Madness" is another one of countless records that have faded into obscurity (and rarity) and never fucking should have. This is a solid chunk of death/thrash that blows many of its peers out of the water; for those of you who enjoyed "Luck of the Corpse," you will eat this up. It takes all of the concepts found therein and expands on them: the songs are much better written, have grown in complexity and can each stand on its own. The musicianship here has grown by leaps and bounds, making for some very cool leads and a lot of insane drumming by King that would come to mark their following records. As far as the vocals go, he takes on sort of a Carcass approach (for lack of a better term), shifting back and forth between shrieks and grunts that gives the songs a little more character than his vocals on the previous album. In conclusion, this is the last more brutality-oriented record Deceased would release before they switched over to a more melodic, thrashy sound (which I loved just the same). If you can't find this in the store, which is possible, then download it, steal it, do whatever the fuck you have to, just get it!