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For diehard fans only - 74%

enigmatech, November 21st, 2020
Written based on this version: 2000, CD, Diehard Music

Retro is the fifth album from Illdisposed, and it's a covers album featuring (for the most part) a slew of classic, old school death metal songs. And goddamn, it's a great list here - a lot of obvious stone cold classics on display...Death, Obituary, Carcass, Paradise Lost, etc...all are found on here and then some...the band also tackles thrash on Infernal Majesty's "None Shall Defy" and black metal on Venom's "Nightmare" so needless to say this is no fucking Graveyard Classics.

The coolest thing about this record is how the band was able to put the "Illdisposed twist" on these other songs. "Cromlech" by Darkthrone and "Gasping for Air" by Autopsy both feel like fitting tributes to the originals while also bearing that certain chunky, heavy sound Illdisposed is known for. Probably the most interesting cover here is Paradise Lost's "Rapture" which really builds off the original in a very unique and interesting way - changing up Gregor's iconic solo and even adding a couple new melodies here and there - all guided by Bo Summer's incredible death growl. The best cover is no doubt "Intoxicated" by Obituary, as Illdisposed saw fit to replace that infamous guitar squeal in the song's first verse with a horse's neigh...how can you fuckin' top that?

As you'd expect, the heavier and more death metal covers are the better ones. Infernal Majesty's "None Shall Defy" was already a huge influence on death metal's development so that cover is translated pretty well, but Venom's "Nightmare" doesn't really...and sounds pretty awkward and forced. AC/DC's "Beating Around the Bush" is also covered - certainly one of their fastest songs and thus a bit heavier and one of the few AC/DC songs you could translate into this context, and while it's done about as well as you could expect, it doesn't really pack the same punch as the proper death metal numbers (nor Illdisposed's original material which, around this time, ironically resembled this cover quite a bit). The worst cover here is Motorhead's "Killed by Death" which has no power and just feels weak - easily skippable. Of course....it goes without saying that none of these compare to the embarrassing horseshit Graveyard Classics series from Six Feet Under, that's for sure...

On the production end of things, Illdisposed has kept things consistently professional-sounding but still pretty raw, which lends itself to the whole thing. It never feels over-produced and the songs retain a sense of "grit" that their originals held despite having a more modern-sounding production value. Another thing worth bringing up is the lineup, as this is the first album not to feature founding bassist Ronnie Bak. Instead, you've got Jakob Batten, who would switch to guitar a few albums down and become the band's lead songwriter until today.

I would definitely recommend checking this out if you're an Illdisposed fan and want to see the band tackle some classic death metal tunes, but otherwise, it can be skipped and you should instead get one of the band's original albums.