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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.