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In the Woods of Necrophiliacs and Undeads - 91%

bayern, April 26th, 2019

“Wood of Necrophiliac”… this piece of musical gorgeousness enraptured me so strongly on first listen that the rest of the album passed me by; completely. These 5.5-min of vocal-less majesty still stand as one of the five finest instrumentals I’ve ever come across in this life, a horror symphony that is easily the most fitting soundtrack to any walk through the woods from any horror film, especially F.W.Murnau’s seminal “Nosferatu”… a terrifyingly atmospheric composition which, alongside the Canadians Malhavoc’s “Cruciform” (not an instrumental), is the most perfect epitome of the word “horror” on the metal circuit.

A surreally immaculate number, smacked right in the midst of the album here, showing the guys in such a bright light that under its influence it would be hard to adequately evaluate the remainder… I usually skip this instrumental when I listen to the album cause it prevents me from fully enjoying the rest. And just to think that the band’s main asset, the unique wailing/screaming banshee Thorsten Bergmann, one of the most unique over-the-top vocals in music history, is missing from it… which in its turn immediately puts another plus in the guys’ resume, to be able to pull it off so well without the contribution from their major performer…

to be perfectly honest, this opus here contains more than enough for one to acknowledge the proficiency of the other band members. Although this “Metal Revolution” the band released two years earlier, this impossibly infectious, most sincere speed metal barrage, will remain my personal favourite from their discography, this outing tussles vehemently with the swansong “Killing in Action” for the runner-up position. As the warm-up for it (the “Back to the Weapons” EP) showed so well, the band were on the way to embracing the more aggressive, thrashy ways of execution, a mission nearly accomplished here. At this stage it wasn’t yet known that the axemen Reiner Kelch and Frank Fricke had also been recruited by the Mekong Delta founder Ralph Hubert, but the more stylish, plain eccentric on occasion riff-patterns applied here are quite reminiscent at times of the ones utilized on the Mekongs’ first released the same year.

“Horrible Infanticide (Part One)” is already a less ordinary opener, an intricate speedster with time-shifts galore, sounding like a more hysterical mutation from the preceding effort, a formula successfully applied on the equally as restless “Manila Terror” before “Natures Death” prepares the setting for the arrival of the mentioned instrumental horror opera with more moderate, semi-galloping rhythms. (skip) The flag of the good old speed metal in its less contaminated, less thrash-fixated form is raised high on “Vengeance (Horrible Infanticide Part Two)”, a hyper-active energizer with curious lyrical interludes this last gimmick nicely recalling the seeping atmosphere from the preceding saga time and again. Bad habits die hard, and the guys vote to stay on speed metal ground with the rousing “Intruder”, but before one falls into a sheer headbanging frenzy come the crooked choppy rhythmic patterns to perplex everyone around save for Bergmann, of course, who leaves his heart here with a most passionate performance logically leading to one of the most unforgettable lung-rending choruses ever.

Relatively conventional song-writing carved by bizarre strides… give us more of those, please, and even before you have started praying for them enters “The Galley”, a hypnotic mid-paced stomper bordering on doom, the sleep-inducing trance welcoming a truly eccentric time-signature mid-way, one noticed by other reviewers as well, and one that amazingly fits the anticlimactic delivery without drastically changing the setting. Audacious musicianship hinted at here and there, but never fully materialized as the guys’ hearts are firmly gripped by the speed/thrash metal revolution where the more immediate blitzkriegers “War of Independence” and “Eisbein (mit Sauerkraut)” belong.

A highly entertaining roller-coaster which plays with the audience’s expectations, tickling their nerves on regular bases, making them guess in what way the plot would possibly develop on the next cut. The instrumental highlight alone makes this opus a must-have, not only a must-listen, but it turns out that the rest of the material is way more than just a ballast, and with a more profound perusal one will easily learn to like most of it, the more aggressive thrashy excursions, the more frivolous speed metal-ish pageants, the allusions to something outlandish and eclectic… and this singer, this fabulous inimitable banshee… just concentrating on the vocals alone would do the trick for many, the man tirelessly and selflessly soaring above the diverse soundscapes, leading the show with supreme confidence and panache.

No necrophiliacs, no banshees, no overt technicality on the goofy thrash/crossover-ish follow-up “Worlds Neurosis” which initially was such a downright disappointment for me that I thought for quite some time to sit down and write to the guys to vent out my frustration… well, I never did that but almost instantly lost interest in their future activities which led to even bigger embarrassments like the Bergmann-led sequel Sacred Chao, with two (!) other Living Death members on board, a power/speed metal charade which was terrible by any conceivable standards, classic or modern. I only lent an ear to “Killing in Action”, the last chapter from the Living Death saga, some time in the late-90’s, and was quite happy to hear the good old speed/thrash venerably rendered as a farewell gesture. A dignity restoration if nothing else, especially for those like me who didn’t quite like the preceding goofer, this opus was almost as good as my beloved “Metal Revolution”, its positive qualities considerably elevated by the able Bergmann replacement, a seriously attached near-banshee vocal experience.

The reformation attempt from 2008 with Bergmann back in action was a salivating prospect but nothing came out of it. The man simply couldn’t be tamed this second time around… he ran away, never to be heard of again. Some people claim they can still hear him wailing inconsolably, somewhere in the woods of North Rhine-Westphalia…

The best of the Living deads - 85%

DesecratorJ, November 13th, 2017

Ah yes, another band from Velbert, Germany, the place where Violent Force also came from. Living Death started their musical journey a little bit earlier though, they already had a release by 1984 titled "Vengeance of Hell", which was a very raw sounding speed metal record, to say the least. The band had difficulties being recognized as a serious act, so they slowly climbed in musical skill and in the quality of their material as they were releasing albums. Unfortunately, Living Death never got much attention because of the popularity of some other German bands of that time. We obviously talk about Sodom, Destruction and Kreator, you might know them if you're reading this.

What we have here is definitely the best Living Death album, in my opinion. "Protected from Reality" is the third album of the band and it was released in 1987. It features nine tracks and clocks at 38 minutes of running time. The cover art of this record looks pretty interesting as well, though I don't really know how it makes sense with the name, it still looks cool, unlike their previous ones, which were not that attractive. If you discovered Living Death with their debut, you will notice a significant improvement of their sound, otherwise, you will see the band with a quite different point of view.

Well, first and foremost, the music on this album is pure German speed metal at his peak in the 80s. The unique and noticeable aspect of Living Death is without a doubt, the vocals of "Thorsten "Toto" Bergmann". His high-pitched voice, with his screams are very impressive, I can't imagine myself singing with this kind of tone, that's for sure... It's kind of hard for some listeners to get used to it, and I am pretty sure some people don't like the band just for that specific reason, which is shameful. Despite that, the singer still delivers his best performance on this album with a more trained use of his vocal abilities. The musicianship of the band is also at his peak, the best example is the instrumental track called "Wood of Necrophiliac". This track is the most interesting one because of its dark and obscure atmosphere, the song is very horror-themed and contains great melodic parts and proves that the guitar duo had talent to come with such great riffs and solos.

This album is awesome for its incredible balance in each song, the music is very straight to the point and doesn't just fuck around to nowhere. All the tracks are basically the same style and have the typical speed metal structure, however, there are still some thrash metal elements that add some aggression at times. The tracks "Horrible Infanticide (Part One)" and "Vengeance (Horrible Infanticide Part Two)" are great examples of a mix of those two genres. Since this album takes a bit more time to get into, (I am speaking by personal experience), after a few listens, tracks such as "Intruder", "Natures Death" and "Manilla Terror" especially grew on me. Those tracks were catchy and had great choruses that made me keep interested in digging this album even more. The only song that isn't a full speed ahead one is "The Galley", which is a more heavy metal oriented track, probably the weakest on this record if you ask me. Living Death were better at making songs like "Eisbein (mit Sauerkraut)", it's the last one on the record, but what a aggressive way to end it, it's definitely the most brutal track with its blasting drums and the guitar riffs that never slow down. As you may have noticed, their lyrical themes are mainly based on the horror, death and violence, the typical speed and thrash metal themes yes... Production-wise, the band did flawless work on this one, all instruments are very well heard in the mix. It's not an overproduced album like today, but it doesn't contain any of the rawness of their first album.

So, what to expect from this album? Well, in general, a German speed metal attack that basically never stops till the end. Of course, I have to recommend you to give this album a listen, even if you said that you don't like Toto's vocals. Anyway, maybe it's not as original or memorable as some other classics, it's still awesome to enjoy at times. "Protected from Reality" is worthy of being one of the best German speed metal records.

Highlights :

Manila Terror
Natures Death
Wood of Necrophiliac

Thorsten Bergmann fanclub - 85%

Acrobat, February 14th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1987, 12" vinyl, Aaarrg Records

For starters this album has one of my favourite album covers of all time. While it might seem a little hackneyed to some – I think it’s wonderful. Two children play with their Living Death mascot (every German home had one in the 1980s!) whilst they are unaware of the looming spectre who has come to heed their call and reap some unknown horror on their sleepy little German town (he’s probably out to get people who think Thorsten Bergmann’s vocals suck). It’s a marvellous little piece and the best part is that the band are pictured on the back sleeve at the very same haunted house. I wonder if they ventured up there every week for practice? I love it because despite being somewhat silly – or maybe because it’s somewhat silly – it’s just so unrelentingly macabre. And that really sums up the whole Living Death experience for me; they’re somewhat unusual in their approach and while you couldn’t argue that Protected from Reality beats Reign in Blood when it comes to teaching fear, it gives its own special brand of terror that probably came from a quaint little German town (well-connected to nearby municipalities and with both a LIDL and an ALDI).

Despite their status as German B-leaguers, Living Death are far from a generic band to me… their music’s just too unorthodox. Even at their most ‘normal-sounding’ moments on the albums that bookend this album they’ve still got a really bizarre edge to them. Sure, sometimes Metal Revolution sounds like Accept but it’s Accept if Udo were locked up in an dungeon and rattling his chains. And yeah, maybe ‘Tuesday’ on World Neuroses sounds like a bit like Skid Row but it’s a gangly, grossly undersexed version of Skid Row. For these reasons and more, I could never, ever confuse Living Death with the legions of normal-sounding Germans whose names generally aren’t so well known outside of their motherland (that means you, Gravestone!). Similarly, while Protected from Reality sees the band switching from speed to thrash it’s not exactly a step into a more ho-hum world but rather the band going further down their own sordid little rabbit hole. Musically, this might not shake any foundations in terms of originality but it’s so mercilessly grim that it just couldn’t be the work of any band but Living Death. After all, they don’t just sing about infanticide they sing about an infanticide – in two parts, obviously it must have been a drawn-out grizzly affair – that is so vile that it’s a horrible infanticide.

Of course, the sticking point with most folks with Living Death is Thorsten Bergmann. Even in an age when people are quite used to the idea of a vocalist who sounds like he is hell-bent on shredding his own vocal chords it seems that Thorsten’s shrill, moustachioed approach is off-putting. For me, however, he’s one of the biggest selling points for this band. I guess he’s roughly somewhere between Udo and King Diamond, but really he’s his own vocalist and I’ve not come across another vocalist who sounds (or dares to sound) like this. But Living Death have never been about individual performances and their main appeal is their atmosphere of that can best be described as strangely menacing (much like a daddy-long-legs). It’s just so… ugly sounding. It’s too grizzly for most metalheads to stomach.

However, even if you don’t care for Mr Bergmann much you can still appreciate the band’s best track which is ‘Wood of Necrophiliac’. It’s an incredibly sinister instrumental that honestly rivals any classic horror theme tune you’d care to mention. You can really imagine a necrophiliac stalking some foreboding forest in the dead of night – or Jimmy Saville fiddling with the recently deceased at Leeds mortuary. The gradually building tension and harrowing nature of it all really makes for one of metal’s finest instrumentals. Outside of that there’s still plenty to reveal in. ‘War of Independence’ is perhaps the second catchiest track here and it rides a fine riff as Bergmann wails as his life depended on it.

Honestly, it’s quite easy to hear why Living Death weren’t the best loved band around when it comes to late-80s thrash. They were clearly too ‘out-there’ for the regular short-wearing thrash populous even if they adopted the standard gang vocal approach for choruses on this album. In fact, I might well recommend this album more to people who like appreciate extreme metal rather than people who just want ‘fun’ thrash (hell, the album itself does have a bit of black metal what with ‘Manila Terror’s Celtic Frost-esque riffs and ‘Wood of Necrophiliac’ which remarkably sounds like Master’s Hammer before Master’s Hammer).

Vengeance! - 91%

Felix 1666, April 25th, 2015

Living Death's debut suffered from a terrible sound, but already their second full-length presented a great improvement. "Protected from Reality" went a step further and showed the band in top form. It offered some of the best German thrash metal tracks from this period. And it may sound very patriotic, but you surely know that Germany had a lot of strong thrash bands during the eighties of the last century. It was therefore for every thrash brigade a challenge to achieve a high position in the national ranking.

Violent Force were of the opinion that "Velbert is absolutely dead". But Living Death, who also originated from this town, did not share that fatalistic point of view. They acted with determination and tenacity. Bulky riffs opened the album in a very rude way. It became immediately clear that the band knew how to pull you into the tracks. "Horrible Infanticide (Part One)", the furious opener, unleashed a tidal wave of thrash metal. After its crude beginning, it turned to a straight high speed attack. The song was thematically related to the opener of the B side, "Vengeance (Horrible Infanticide Part Two)". Also the musical approach of these both tunes was fairly similar. "Vengeance" reached the same level of ferocity, straightness and poisonousness, among other things because of its crunchy chorus and some mysterious breaks. The atmosphere of the cover artwork especially matched with the aura of these songs.

Lead vocalist Toto Bergmann, strongly disputed in view of his Micky Mouse performance on the first album, made his best contribution so far. He still sounded very individual, but his high-pitched screaming followed a more controlled approach. Nevertheless, Toto's way of singing remained an unique selling point. He did no longer sound like the well-known mouse, but like a dying cat in its last minutes. In other words: simply ingenious. These two words could also be used for the description of the drilling guitar sound that did not fail to deliver an extra dose of aggressiveness. Overall, the mix reflected the spirit of thrash metal while impressing with both its density and its liveliness. In particular, the entire A side was an orgy of phenomenal riffs, vibrant breaks and menacing melodies. "Wood of Necrophiliac" constituted the most remarkable track. This instrumental piece created a very sinister atmosphere because of the interplay of emotional guitars and flattening riffs. Without any question, it is still one of the best instrumentals that I have ever heard. Much to my surprise, I did not miss the expressive vocals of Toto. Each and every riff as well as every single guitar line hit the mark. Rarely used keyboards and simple background vocals enhanced the effect of the aforementioned atmosphere. The only error of the song was that it ended too soon and too abruptly.

The B side surprised with a broader musical range. "The Galley" pummeled you with a doomy heaviness while "Eisbein (mit Sauerkraut)" was meant to be the funny conclusion. To be honest, it was not very funny at all, but the composition itself met the expectations. Nevertheless, the B side could not compete with the first half of the vinyl. With the exception of "Vengeance", the songs were slightly weaker than the pieces of the A side. However, the band did not present any throwaway track. While being driven by its musical conviction, the five-piece found its own way so that "Protected from Reality" did not lack of originality. Nevertheless, the band did not undermine the principles of the genre. Admittedly, it would be an exaggeration to say that Living Death managed to square the circle. But nobody could ignore the surprising development of the band. Just think back to the immature debut.

No frills, the best of Living Death - 80%

autothrall, November 6th, 2009

German thrash is best known for its acclaimed triumvirate of Destruction, Kreator and Sodom, but just below the surface you will find a very solid roster of bands who didn't quite make it as far: Tankard, Deathrow, Vendetta, Mekong Delta, Protector, and then there is of course Living Death. With a wilder style employing the shrieking vocals of Thorsten Bergman, they ravaged the scene with their early albums Vengeance of Hell and Metal Revolution. However, the filthy speed metal of their third album Protected from Reality has always stood out to me as their best work.

There are no frills on this album. Bergman's vocals are plastered all over the twisting, chugging, bulldozer thrash riffs, as much in the class of NWOBHM-on-crack vein as they possessed a Teutonic thrash edge. The album begins with the pulverizing "Horrible Infanticide (Part One)", and the field is immediately leveled by the sound of Metallica meets Destruction beneath an air raid siren. "Manila Terror" follows this assault with another, though this is not my favorite song here. "Natures Death" starts with a good mid-paced thrash riff under a wailing, noisy lead, then begins a crunchy bit akin to Anthrax. The verse vocals are sick, I like the riffing with the atmosphere of the squealing guitar harmony. "Wood of Necrophiliac" begins with a very brooding 80s acoustic guitar, lots of reverb, interwoven with some slower paced chugging, vocal choirs and instrumental creepiness. A very interesting track. "Vengeance (Horrible Infanticide Part Two)" is a scorching thrasher with very Cirith Ungol-like vocals over the bands gritty street level thug thrashing. "Intruder" is a speed metal mosh slugfest with some sick breakdowns, Bergman's vocals are excellent here, cutting right into you. He sounds like a girl, but not...maybe a harpy...a thrashing harpy! "The Galley" is big juicy metal sauteed in a slower, driving pace and has some sloppy but sick lead work. "War of Independence" begins with some nice thrashing along to Bergman's psycho lyrics, before the drums pick up into a speed metal mayhem. The album ends with the goofy "Eisbein (Mit Sauerkraut)", your Tankard type speed metal anthem about ham hock and condiments...yeah, we'll not touch this.

The album is aggressive and raw; if you like this old school stuff you'll become totally infected by the explosive energies and bang your head into dust. At points it feels a little uncouth and sloppier than other German thrash, but when you're having this much fun, who cares. Though they have numerous albums of a similar quality, I've always enjoyed one of if not the best, alongside Metal Revolution...the band did mature as they went on and their later albums are a little more thoughtful, but the raw and pummeling feel of this is where it's really at.


Neglected Legends' Finest Hour - 85%

brocashelm, April 3rd, 2009

It had not been an easy road for Germany’s Living Death. Their 1984 debut album Vengeance Of Hell could possibly have beaten Metallica’s debut out of the gate chronologically as a thrash metal milestone, but weak sound and performances hampered it. Their second album Metal Revolution was similarly compromised, and being on a nowhere label like Mausoleum was at the time didn’t help them. But by 1986’s Back To The Weapons EP it was clear that a more serious tact had been adopted by the band, and their rather slack thrash metal style was being overhauled.

Thus, this album deserved to be much bigger news than it was, as it brought Living Death into the death metal realm of Sodom and Kreator with no lack of ability or power present. True, singer Thorsten Bergmann had always had a tough voice to love, but here the material is abrasive enough to make his distorted wails make contextual sense. A much heavier and darker sound job cranks the guitars and bass up, allowing the fast and tight outbursts of “Horrible Infanticide” and “Vengeance” to ring true. “Manila Terror” and “Intruder” are similarly strong, while the instrumental “Wood Of Necrophiliac” reveals some playing skills within the band that were heretofore unknown.

Sadly it took two years for this album to finally see release in America (it was originally issued only in Europe and I have no idea why the US release was so delayed), by which time Living Death’s position was diminished further. They’d persevere for a short while after, but not for long. This record is the one that should have broken them, and thrashers and death metal fans should make every effort to hear it.

Under-rated technical thrash - 85%

radiohater, December 30th, 2004

It was 1987, and Living Death had established a reputation as a solid and dependable thrash act. Their EP Back To The Weapons showed them progressing into a more aggressive form of their speedy thrash. Around this time, guitarists Reiner Kelch and Frank Fricke would begin their involvement with progressive-thrash studio project Mekong Delta. After that, Living Death would reconvene and begin work on their third full-length album Protected From Reality.

What we have here is essentially a continuation of the sound they'd found on Back To The Weapons. However, there are quite a few new elements that have trickled in here from Fricke's and Kelch's (R) involvement in Mekong Delta. The more straightforward cuts involve the fast palm-muted single note riffing found in the previous release. Perfect examples can be seen in the violent opening cut Horrible Solution (a.k.a. Horrible Infanticide), Manila Terror, Vengeance (a.k.a Horrible Solution/Infanticide Pt 2) and Eisbein (Mit Sauerkraut). Other tracks take this approach and add to them some more progressive feel, with some odd time signatures, odd bar lengths, and some rather jarring riff changes. This can be seen in Intruder, Vengeance and War Of Independence. On other tracks there is a much more technical and progressive feel to them, such as the long and convoluted instrumental Wood Of Necrophiliac and the slow and grinding The Galley, which features one of the most unpredictable time signatures I've ever heard. The band also hint at their future direction (lyrically at least) in the closing track, Eisbein (Mit Sauerkraut), which is a fast but silly tune which is basically the bands homage to pork hocks (eisbein). The first five tracks are great, but the next three don't seem to be up to the same standard as the first five, before things pick up again with the aforementioned Eisbein.

Frank Fricke and Reiner Kelch take a more adventurous tack to their twin guitar assault on this release. They base their attack on their fast palm-muted riffing as always, but they've incorporated some new tricks into their arsenal. They tend to play off each other a lot more, with one holding the rhythm and the other going over the top with a lead line. They also experiment with odd timings, as seen in areas of Manila Terror and Intruder, the ending of Natures Death, throughout Wood Of Necrophiliac and the absolute bastard of a time signature found in The Galley (which I still have no idea what the bloody signature is!). Their lead playing is still the frenetic shredding that was on earlier efforts, although in some areas there is a more refined approach, such as the melodic finger-tapped arpeggios in Horrible Solution. All of this is supported by the solid, if mostly unremarkable bass playing of Dieter Kelch. Dieter plays root notes and keeps the time, but he's shown to be slightly more active on this release, if only during Wood Of Necrophiliac.

Atomic Steif continues in the same vein as Back To The Weapons, pounding out a relentless fast double-time beat with a few fills here and there. He does use his double-bass a lot more here, especially in Intruder, Manila Terror and Vengeance. He manages to navigate the odd-timings and jarring riff changes of Living Death's music, most notably in The Galley.

Thorsten Bergmann's vocals were always a divisive element with Living Death, with his abrasive scream practically determining solely whether people would enjoy or despise Living Death. Here his approach for the most part a continuation of his work on Back To The Weapons, but more varied. At times he's at his most abrasive (Horrible Solution, Vengeance and the chorus to War Of Independence), employing a scream that's even nastier than his Back To The Weapons approach. Sometimes he utilises his lower range more (The Galley, some parts of War Of Independence), and on Nature's Death his vocals harken back to his work on Metal Revolution. And strangely enough he attempts a brief Gregorian chant (?!!) on Horrible Solution. A more varied approach from Toto on this release, and one that's a little easier on the ears too.

The production is typical 80's thrash production. The sound is mostly built around the guitars, which are full and defined, although a little muffled at times. The lead guitars stand out well. The kit is mixed a little more evenly this time and sounds more powerful as well. Dieter's bass is at times hard to distinguish, although this is more to do with the rather inactive playing style that he favours. Interestingly, Thorsten is actually DOWN in the mix at times. This makes the effect of his rather abrasive style less off-putting, and makes the album slightly more accessible.

Overall, this is a great slab of German thrash with a more pronounced technical edge. Fans of German thrash and early Mekong Delta in particular will find something to enjoy here.