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So Bad It's Good - 80%

Delta_Wing, March 6th, 2013

Having seen, Fetid Zombie mastermind Mark Riddick's sick artwork floating around on countless death metal album covers and seeing it plastered throughout the internet, his name registered as an artist I have wanted to check out now for some time. I had not listened to Fetid Zombie before picking up their latest, Holy Destroyer, or any of Riddick’s other projects such as Macabra, for that matter. I saw this album on the new release shelf of my local metal store in all of its gruesome glory and it peaked my interest. Artwork that looks fantastic: check. Guest appearances by James Malone of Arsis, Damian Herring of Horrendous, Don of the Dead from Nunslaughter, and The Black Lourde of Crucifixion from Crucifier: check, check, check, and check!!

Add to that the wonderful packaging Metalhit.com put together for this release, including an A7 sized poster (drawn, of course, by Mr. Riddick), a cool Fetid Zombie logo patch, and logo button along with what appears like a mini-graphic novel for the album and I was sold. Off to the register I go with what could be a killer album or a total let down.

As I dropped this into my CD player, I was awaiting some old and rotten sounding DM like Necrovore, Nunslaughter, Cianide, or even Horrendous.

Nope, what awaited me was something completely different. Slightly out of key guitar playing greeted me with lots of '80s-styled soloing accompanied by thick bass lines which surprisingly were completely in the forefront of the mix ala early Maiden, and vocals I would have never expected on top of somewhat poorly-timed drum programming. To say I was a little disappointed due to anticipating something completely different is an understatement. The vibe is totally '80s straight up heavy metal. Like a combination of 3rd tier occult heavy metal mixed with gruff, yet totally decipherable vocals (sometimes they remind me of early Tom Angelripper, other times an early Tom G. Warrior). Add to that over the top blasphemous lyrics and you get an idea of Fetid Zombie. Well, actually you don’t, because this is like nothing I have heard in a long time. It feels like it plays homage to the slightly off key and off time playing of early bands like Sodom, Hellhammer, or even Celtic Frost, who created extreme metal by mixing their classic heavy metal influences with new (at the time) extremity.

At first total disappointment rushed over me as I felt I fell victim to a cruel joke, a parody of extreme metal, something totally Spinal Tap that robbed me of my 15 bucks that I dished out due to the excellent packaging. My initial thought was I took Demigod’s Slumber of the Sullen Eyes out for this?? I didn’t give up on Fetid Zombie immediately though and let the music sink in after some more spins. I spun the record a couple more times and realized that you have to take this album somewhat lightheartedly. If the music and lyrics were not meant to be taken lightheartedly, some of the guest appearances probably would never have happened.

I mean, songs like Crucify the Proselytizer have to be taken as tongue in cheek; no one can sing these lyrics and take themselves completely seriously. I mean, any metalhead with half a brain knows that most lyrics found among our favorites can’t be taken at face value, but Riddick really does one better here.

After giving Holy Destroyer your undivided attention, the music actually draws you in and you begin to realize the lacking use of overly heavy distortion plus old school drum fills and bass lines make this quite a fresh approach and an enjoyable album. Open Casket Stench is one of my favorite songs here with its well-placed solos and the horrid shrieks of Damian Herring leading the song off. Then Riddick’s layered riffs get your head moving nicely to the music. This song has a lot of tempo changes and layered soloing along with Herring’s sick vocals alternating between Riddick’s early proto-black/death gruffs.

The album rolls along nicely for 39 minutes and is a quick listen that doesn’t seem tedious at all. In fact, the simple arrangements and amateurish feel at times makes it very enjoyable. Plus the fantastic bass playing is a welcomed surprise as so much modern and even old school revision has the bass completely hidden.

But buyer beware if you think there will be heavy buzzing distortion, ultra-low vocals (besides the vocal guest appearances of the members of Nunslaughter, Horrendous, and Crucifier), and blast beat drumming, 'cause you won’t find it here and may be disappointed. If you give Fetid Zombie a chance though, it really grows on you. The clean guitar breaks, great bass playing, fast old school heavy metal style drumming, and lots of fun moments makes for something different and unique in today’s range of metal releases. The music is actually slightly unclassifiable within any specific genre and death metal would be an overstatement, even though one can see the clear linage.