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Not Conquering Much - 66%

SweetLeaf95, April 30th, 2018

Not even a year ago, the most recent effort by Dr. Living Dead would drop, and would prove to show that maybe they should have waited a little longer between releases, like the previous two. Instead, with a year between Cosmic Conqueror and Crush The Sublime Gods, this one seems rather rushed, and lacks the memorability of previous releases. Not to say that the music is bad, but there certainly could have been some improvement, and the brilliant songwriting moments are few and far throughout the forty one minute run time.

The overall style is very similar to Crush The Sublime Gods, with their brand of ripping thrash riffs being the main formula and in no way resurrecting the crossover and punk overload that was present on early releases. With that one being such a masterpiece, it was a great disappointment that this one couldn't hold up to it. The vocals are a bit different, and actually deliver pretty well. Rather a classic vibe, they have a bit more of a newer, Municipal Waste-esque punch to them. Sadly though, the gang vocals that worked wonders before are no longer present. All of the instrumentation is rather on point, and the production is fine, but again, there's nothing standing out about it. It mostly sounds like leftover riffs and ideas that were scrapped before, then thrown together to rush a new release.

An exception to all of this is the track "Moment of Clarity", which is an excellent, more melodic and mid-paced track with the cleanest and most thorough singing that this band has ever done. It ends off with a crushing thrash outro. Not a ballad, but very much friendlier than anything else. A lot of people like to bash bands for going softer or changing significantly, but it would get boring if bands didn't do that, and I always love such changes. If the next record waits a few more years for development, and channels this style into an entire new idea, it's bound to be an excellent record. Call me crazy, but I think Dr. Living Dead is due for a "black album". This one's worth picking up, but not really an essential buy.

Originally written for Antichrist Magazine:

Who invited Connelly? - 82%

Felix 1666, November 18th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Century Media Records (Slipcase)

It feels like yesterday that Dr. Living Dead! released the fantastic "Crush the Sublime Gods". But in fact the full-length is already almost three years old. This deceptive perception indicates that the album from February 2015 was - in my humble opinion - really strong, because I still enjoy it regularly. Thus, "Cosmic Conqueror" is at risk to be an actually good album which is doomed to stand in the shadow of its mighty predecessor. On the other hand, the skulls and bandanas lovers have already proven their great talent - and they show it again, even though they do not fully achieve the top form of the "Crush the Sublime Gods" period. (But I cannot really blame them for this, because I also do not know whether this will become my best review so far...)

"The Summoning" gives an insight into the potential of the group. A powerful yet airy riff shapes the beginning of the fast-paced number and leaves room for the bass guitar. Dr. Rad, bass player and main composer, makes good use of the situation and delivers some very interesting bass lines. He profits from the very well succeeded production which scores with heaviness, clarity and power. The song gets pretty intensive and I am not sure whether this is really Dr. Mania at the mic. The voice reminds me very much of Nuclear Assault. To be honest, I am convinced that this is John Connelly behind the skull mask. Anyway, Dr. Living Dead! still combine elements of Suicidal Tendencies and Slayer. The Nuclear Assault tribute remains an exception. However, "The Summoning" shows the vehement side of the band in a very good way, while the next number ("Terror Vision") presents a mid-paced, almost doomy monument which is based on an edgy, minimalist yet skull-splitting riff. It creeps steadily forward and creates an oppressive feeling. Despite the less rapid and therefore rather atypical approach, the song uncovers an attractive facet of the Swedish quartet. Well, there are further slow-moving pieces, for example the somehow transcendent "Moment of Clarity" or a short instrumental (which is completely pointless...). But the majority of the songs does not snuggle with any form of gentleness.

Representative pieces like the opener or the title track show a strict, breakneck and sharp approach. "Disease to Exist", the longest song on this output, is another example for a vigorous, well designed and merciless thrasher. Dr. Living Dead! have a knack for resounding riffs and they do not hesitate to present their competency. Nevertheless, the long shadow of "Crush the Sublime Gods" cannot be ignored and therefore I was a little bit disappointed at first. But "Cosmic Conqueror" fights back, at least to some extent. It grows with every new round and the unbridled energy of rockets such as "Infiltrator/Exterminator" has an infectious effect. Moreover, each and every musician seems to be technically competent and Dr. Mania (or John Connelly, who knows?) varies his modes of expression cleverly. Every now and then, he adopts this casual Mike Muir style (for example in "Terror Vision"), but mostly he is focussed on metallic vehemence. From the beginning to the completion, his performance is a vital element for the sound of the band.

Speaking of completion: the final track surprises with Candlemass-like riffing, while the robot vocals connect the musical content with the pretty strange artwork. So what is left to say? "Cosmic Conqueror" kicks some asses and everybody who wants a no-nonsense hybrid of 85% thrash/speed and 15% crossover/punk is well advised to lend an ear to it. All those countless guys who only feel good as long as they have a reason to feel bad can mourn that the album does not beat its precursor. However, everybody who is old enough to realize the value of health should get in contact with these doctors. It will not cause any harm to you.

Conquering The Cosmos - 80%

Kringelorde, November 2nd, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Century Media Records (Slipcase)

Originally Written For KringeLorde Archives

You don’t have to listen to Dr. Living Dead’s previous album to appreciate this LP, but I just have a feeling that most people who read this have no idea who Dr. Living Dead is. Hailing from Sweden, Dr. Living Dead is one of the only crossover thrash bands to not embarrass themselves trying so hard to be punk and edgy (looking at you Municipal Waste). Crush The Sublime Gods is where Dr. Living Dead made their transition from being “just good” to “fucking really good”, so you could imagine that I’ve been pretty excited to see what else they have in store.

Cosmic Conqueror takes Dr. Living Dead’s sound into a slightly new direction, meaning Cosmic Conqueror is less about stuffing every song with more complex thrash riffs and more focused on tighter punk riffs. It’s a nice change of pace, but this change makes it more apparent than ever that Dr. Living Dead isn’t exactly experienced. Their attempts at sounding both heavy and punky means the band ends up treading some old ground. Some riffs sound like they were lifted from the bridges off of Crush. It should be noted that several tracks do go back to that more complex style, and it becomes more of a welcome change rather a downright show stopper. But the heart of the sound is what’s most important; the band’s in your face “FUCK YOU WE DO WHAT WE WANT” attitude is ever present throughout the album, even if the riffs get a little dry here and there.

The album’s mixing is very solid, with the guitars being an ever present force, a prominent bass, and solid drums. The mixing feels a little more rough and airy than Crush, but I feel it just adds to the overall tone of the LP. It rough chunky guitars add to the DIY feel, and with the album’s themes of cyberpunk dystopia, it gives the album's quieter moments a more tense and eerie feel.

Lyrically, I think the band is still in a bit of a rut. I don’t usually expect much from thrash metal lyrics (usually the cheesier the better) but Dr. Living Dead’s lyrics still remain pretty dry for being about space crime and cosmic horror. That being said, nothing about their lyrics stuck out to me as being aggressively poor, so I guess the point is moot.

I wish I could say more about Cosmic Conqueror but honestly it’s just Dr. Living Dead doing what they do best. It’s not exactly an ambitious record, but it’s a tight package with more than enough to offer for anyone looking for some good crossover thrash.