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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.

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