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Embedded In My Brain - 83%

televiper11, August 11th, 2010

I was digging through my old cassettes the other day and came across this gem of an album from Meathook Seed entitled Embedded, an underrated one-off released on Earache way back in 1993. Giving it a re-listen, I was blown away by how good it was, how well it had held up, and how much I wished they had continued exploring this avenue of extreme music.

As a side-project between members of Obituary and Napalm Death, Embedded is fascinating. It takes the industrial-tinged death metal of Fear, Emptiness, Despair and tips it more aggressively into the industrial side of things. Released a year before F.E.D., it totally presages that album's sound yet steps away from the lingering grind elements. It also has little in common with Obituary at all, which makes it good that those members could get this out of their system safely. I miss more adventurous side-projects like this, where you get to see a different side of your favorite bands without them compromising the integrity of their main projects. Instead of playing it safe, they really branch out and take risks.

Musically, Embedded graces that same fine line between assaultive metal and repetitive industrial that bands like Ministry, Godflesh, and Skin Chamber strode so successfully at the time. The songwriting quality is impeccable, easily straddling multiple genres while constantly dishing up tasty riffs and memorable hooks. Mitch Harris certainly didn't save his best ideas for Napalm Death. And his guitar playing is ferocious, on the level of his best Napalm work. Donald Tardy totally destroys his drums on this, finding that overwhelmingly pummeling yet minimal sound that few drummers seem to master. Teamed up with a drum machine on some tracks, he manages to make the pairing work, using the metronomic effect of the machine to unleash off-time compliments and accents. Lastly, Trevor Peres absolutely kills on the mic. I prefer his death growl to his clean shout, though the latter is adequate. I just enjoy his death vox more.

Highlights include the crushing "Famine Sector," one of the best industrial metal tunes ever written. "A Furred Grave" features Peres's alternating vocals to their best effect and "Day of Conceiving" is a vicious bit of punishing slow-grind. The final track, "Sea of Tranquility," really brings the industrial influences into stark relief -- a 14 minute long dirge comprised entirely of alienating ambient loops, simplistic drum machine patterns, and feedback noises.

I'm not sure who produced this record, it sounds like Colin Richardson to my ears, but regardless, it is rich and full with the expert separation of sound so vital to records of this sort. You can hear every texture, from the guitar riffs and drums, to the electronic samples so clearly audible yet buried in the various layers -- and the album is well-layered, generating a massively depressive atmosphere appropriate to an industrial death metal album. Embedded conjures frightening images of decaying, abandoned factories and roving gangs of post-apocalyptic mutants seeking human sacrifice. It is industrial death metal done right and it's a shame the band never managed to reconvene with this line-up.