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Fantastic doomy death metal - 92%

Daemonlord, July 5th, 2011

Well, this is this months surprise package for me, hands down. I was expecting something good from this Diabolical Conquest label, as I know the guys behind it are some of the most hard nosed death metal fans on earth. But when I finally got around to hearing The Dead's music, I wasn't expecting them to sound quite like they do - and to be honest, I'm really pleased because of it.

You see, The Dead are an anomaly in the death metal scene. They're one of the most unique death metal bands I've come across for quite a while in fact. Their overall sound on 'Ritual Executions' (their 2nd full length effort), is pretty hard to nail down perfectly with a regular 'metal sub genre' label. This album is dripping with all sorts of different vibes, be it the early doom-filled haze of Autopsy's deathly extravaganzas, to the feverish hateful murk of early Incantation, one would almost be tempted to call this doom/death... but.. I don't know. It doesn't seem a suitable enough label to cover the pure awesomeness that seeps from every second of this album.

If Electric Wizard circa 'Dopethrone' were to begin playing death metal, getting Chris Reifert in for guest vocals and toking on the odd bong and dropping a few tabs of acid in between songs, whilst flicking through passages from the Necronomicon, this would be a closer approximation of the fantastic muddy death these guys serve up in spades. The aura The Dead give off is of such an awe inspiring and refreshingly 'different' nature, it really sucks you in for the album's entirety, whisking you away to the darkest corner of Hades, where the walls drip with boiling tar and acrid black smoke billows from the cracks in the floor.

So, it's clearly full marks from me to The Dead for their primal brand of fuzzy, sludgy, grim and hazy transcendent death metal. The Dead should be to seasoned death metal fans what Faustcoven were to seasoned Black Metal fans a few years back a shot in the arm, and a kick in the arse. Good shit!

Originally written for www.metalteamuk.net

A Different Shade of Death - 86%

GuntherTheUndying, November 22nd, 2010

Perhaps the most intriguing quality attached to “Ritual Executions” is its daringness to explore outside the cryptic morgue of death metal. Indeed, The Dead take a unique approach to the classic genre in roads often less traveled compared to its forefathers and current worshippers, but certainly do not deny it its blackened justice. One could associate The Dead with gods like Autopsy or Asphyx in some ways more than others, but these mates are so much more than another follower taking the unholy pilgrimage; they create their own sound in their own image. "Ritual Executions" hardly bothers showcasing maniacal tremolo riffs or burning blastbeats, instead focusing on obscure elements of musical progression and slowly smashing the world piece by piece with sludgy bludgeons, relentless in their constant assault, yet told through the album’s diverted route through graves and angry spirits throughout.

Essentially, “Ritual Executions” feels like a doom/stoner release layered in mega-brutal heaviness and growling vocals with the occasional zest of lightning-fast death metal thrown in for good measure. Overall, the record feels pretty simple and clearly isn’t a technical strain, but that isn’t the point: The Dead are all about getting these riffs and patterns stuck in your head. Every song is lengthy in its own regard yet incredibly addictive within the roasting, doomy beating that is “Ritual Executions.” The Dead have a lot in common with Autopsy, but their style is a lot more focused on just slowly punching the ground until the Earth’s tectonic plates begin to shear and crack, just because shearing and cracking the Earth’s tectonic plates is fucking heavy. And it is, believe me.

Although the stoner/doom vibe isn’t necessarily the unearthing of Atlantis in death metal, twisting the sound into a mangled mess of unspeakable strangeness gives The Dead a special edge that could even make HP Lovecraft tilt his head. The album’s last song, the ten-minute “Death Metal Suicide,” is a funk-smeared instrumental practicing The Dead’s trademark gene featured in bizarre drum rhythms and riffs that are indeed weird, but oddly brilliant. Most of the release’s staples include such qualities, although typically of different universes: psychedelic approaches appear periodically, a few riffs are mummified in progressive elements, etc. However, The Dead is also exceptional when straight-up death metal takes control; they sound entirely natural and unique, almost like an Autopsy battalion paying tribute to their gore-infested country. I guess I should say the vocals aren’t my cup of tea, but even if they were worse, nothing could derail my opinion that this album slays goats and scares little children.

It probably wouldn't be a farce to call this release within reach of avant-garde, as The Dead clearly incorporates a stunning amount of variety and influences while basing their sound entirely on borderline-minimalist death metal; although the CD itself may seem a bit formulaic at hindsight, The Dead creates some fine, fine ambience that necrophiliacs of all shapes, sizes, and preferences will adore. Regardless of whatever it is or what makes The Dead tick, "Ritual Executions" leaves a lasting impression of being one of the most interesting death metal's pieces recorded in recent memory, and their tasteful dichotomy is bound to vacuum a horde of extreme metal cannibals into their feeding pit of starvation and slow-roasted goodness without any skeletons hiding in the closet. Maybe in the backyard, but certainly not the closet.

This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com

The Dead - Ritual executions re-release - 70%

Phuling, October 22nd, 2010

I’d never heard of The Dead before, and I assume I’m not the only one. But Australian’s have a knack for creating some of the most vicious and obscure extreme metal around, and with bands like Guild of Destruction and Disentomb coming seemingly from out of nowhere and just clomping me to bloody mush, it’s difficult to not get your hopes up for The Dead. This is a re-release of their second album, previously limited to 100 copies. It’s the first release of a brand new label run by Kunal of Diabolical Conquest Webzine, and I’m sure he’s taken his sweet time finding the right band for the job. So yet another thing insures high hopes for Ritual executions.

It doesn’t take long before your realize this is far from your standard set of death metal riffs, the first few minutes of the opening track Burn your dead tells you that. As the eight minutes worth of ultra-heavy, sludge-ridden death ends, and we move on into Cannibal abattoir, the stoner influences becomes almost overwhelming. Jazzy, highly unorthodox drum patterns briefly take the front seat, only abruptly interrupted by the utterly obscure and murky death metal that still remains the core of the sound. It’s difficult not to feel a somewhat similarity to Autopsy, considering the blending of stoner and death, but it still doesn’t really fit the bill to perfection. Take a dose of Coffins, Electric Wizard, Father Befouled and the general ferocity of Aussie metal with Ignivomous and the previously mentioned Guild of Destruction, and you’re at least a little wiser.

The only real moment of blasting, where the death metal is exclusively in the driver’s seat, is during Born in a grave, which houses a much faster tempo than the remainder of material. But not even during this blaster are we free from psychedelic stoner, as the mangle is halted by an unorthodox use of drum patterns. Vocally it doesn’t get any saner either, as the extremely harsh and deep grunting of Mike Yee sounds far from anything I’ve ever heard before, and sounds more like a troll who’s got something stuck in his throat than an ordinary death metal growl. And it fits the general ugliness and rawness that is Ritual executions. There’s not a moment that’s not infested with a sense of real murky obscurity, not only thanks to the versatile material, but also production-wise. Psychedelic, doomy, sludgy stoner death metal isn’t normally a term I’d use to describe a band’s sound, but based on this album I don’t really know how else to describe The Dead. It’s certainly not for the meek, that’s for sure.

Originally written for http://www.mylastchapter.net

Claustrophobic Avant-Sludge Doom/Death - 80%

Djol, September 15th, 2010

Australia’s The Dead self-released their sophomore album 'Ritual Executions' last year. 2010, however, sees them freshly signed to India’s newly-launched Diabolical Conquest Records, with 'Ritual Executions' getting a remastering job, updated artwork, and seeing a proper label release. A murky hybrid and death metal and doom is the order of business for this Australian trio, but we’re not talking the doom/death of early Peaceville mopesters Anathema, Katatonia, Paradise Lost et al; instead, this is more like the dank, doomy, crypt-like death metal of early Incantation, or the quicker moments of legendary gut-wrenchers Disembowelment (though, in all fairness, if Incantation worship is your cup of righteous tea, the new Father Befouled album out on Relapse ought to be destination one).

The album starts off with a slow dirge of a song in “Burn Your Dead,” with a pleasantly thick, skull-rattling bass tone on the arpeggio riffs. Vocalist Mike Yee demonstrates some abominably deep, guttural death tones, which are mixed in such a way as not to overpower the music, but still somewhat higher in the mix than many similarly-pitched vocalists, in a manner which verges on the comprehensible. The closing sections of “Burn Your Dead” utilize an effective rhythmic compositional style to drone out with – a measure of 4/4 time followed by a measure of 3/4 time. It’s a fairly simple tool, but it demonstrates that some deliberate thought has gone into the crafting of these tomes of death. If you’ve picked up on that, though, later track “Centurian” is a bit of a let-down, since it, too, boasts that same meter (though in a somewhat more straight-forward 7/4 attack) for pretty much its entire duration. The vocals also become somewhat monotonous as the album wears on, although not so much that they detract terribly from the masterful display of grooving, doom-tinged death metal.

The production isn’t quite gritty or fuzzed-out enough to push this album into sludge territory, but some of the songwriting veers in the direction of booze-drenched misanthropy. There are a few frustrating quirks to the drum production, though. The hi-hat has got a weird buzz to it, and the kick drum could stand to be mixed a little higher. Still, it’s not overly clean, and although it rings somewhat hollow, the drum production still sounds like a real person pounding away on a real kit. The album works effectively as a whole because of the band’s strong compositional skills, and the smart sequencing of tracks to alternate between trudging epics and more in-your-face, aggressive death metal blasts. Some of the quicker tunes like “Cannibal Abattoir” show a very sprightly, almost jittery style of drumming (particularly in the snare drum work), which is occasionally reminiscent of a slightly less-busy Brann Dailor from Mastodon’s early work (think Remission or even Lifesblood). I’m also not sure if it’s just because I’ve been listening to too much Kylesa lately, but I swear that some of these faster moments have a similar psychedelic feeling in the riffing. At any rate, if the prospect of this type of doomy, well-composed death metal with non-obtrusive psychedelic touches gets your blackened heart all a-flutter, then you would do well to check this album out.

The funk drumming breaks in “Born In a Grave” are a bit jarring, but ultimately provide an interesting contrast to the more standard death metal signifiers used throughout. The latter sections of this song, however, have some great, cavernous echoing effects to match the atmosphere of patient, plodding doom, and actually turn this track into one of the album’s highlights. The build-up and eventual release around the five-minute mark (“BOOOOOORRRRRN…IN A GRAAAAVE”) is absolutely fantastic, and leads me into a near-apoplectic fit of wanting to smash furiously anything within reach. Hide the china. Other excellent moments include the groovy riff and breakdown around 1:30 into the title track, which is seriously crushing. Think of the bulldozing momentum of Bolt Thrower or Asphyx, and you’re well on your way to grasping the effect of concrete slabs dropped repeatedly on your head. The closing track “Death Metal Suicide” is a quite interesting change of pace, offering up another set of pretty funky grooves, especially in the drumming. Whatever else you may think of it, it’s an extremely bold choice, playing a ten-minute long, funk-influenced instrumental jam to close out one’s album in a genre as frequently myopic and orthodox as death metal.

Some of the more avant-garde moments on this disc recall queasy death metal savants Gorguts (circa Obscura, primarily) and Portal, the latter of which may be more than a coincidence, as Ritual Executions was remastered by Aphotic, one of the guitarists from Portal. The Dead don’t ever quite reach the same level of otherness (or what-the-fuck-ness) as either of the aforementioned bands, but it’s clear that they are drinking some of the same fetid water. In general, the mélange of styles offered on this record ends up meshing rather well into a unique death metal whole. Fans of the already-mentioned unsettled death metal acts Portal and Gorguts may find much to enjoy here, as will fans of the more strictly deathly side of doom/death metal. One of the primary references which continues lurching into mind is Lasse Pyykkö (of Profound Lore’s Hooded Menace, as well as Phlegethon, Vacant Coffin, Claws, etc.), fans of whose should flock to this Australian cult with morbid glee. Diabolical Conquest Records have found themselves a real winner of an album here, and I will be eagerly following future releases from this grimly determined band. If Tom Warrior is to be believed, and only death is real, then get yourself a copy of 'Ritual Executions' for a sledgehammer dose of heavy fucking metal reality.

Overall rating: 80%. “BOOOOOOORRRRN…IN A GRAAAAAVE!!!” Doesn’t get much better than that, friends.

(Note: Originally published at http://spinaltapdance.wordpress.com/)