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Intense...and brutal! - 83%

enigmatech, February 18th, 2021
Written based on this version: 1991, CD, Grind Core International

The Dead Youth were a part of the highly underrated Midwest death metal scene, which brought to the world many great, classic bands like Broken Hope, Morta Skuld, Oppressor, Cianide, Novembers Doom, and Viogression, along with lesser known (but no less great) bands like Demented Ted, Afterlife, Accidental Suicide, and Morgue...while few of these bands (save maybe Macabre) gained the level cultural significance graced to their Florida or New York counterparts, they're still held in high regard by true fans of death metal (much in the same way the Finnish scene is rightfully celebrated these days). Now enter The Dead Youth. These guys formed in 1988 and released their debut Intense Brutality in 1991, arguably the golden year of glorious death metal art. Unfortunately, this album has largely been lost in the shuffle (as mentioned in my Threnody review...they've been on this site since 2003 and no reviews until now - yikes!). Of course, the band later gained wider notoriety as Usurper, a painfully mediocre Celtic Frost cover band, but that band sucks (as does TDY's 1993 followup) so they really only deserve attention for this one album.

The Dead Youth's approach to death metal is fast, aggressive and full of twist and turns. The riffs are complex, but never needlessly so and the whole package is catchy and quite memorable. There's a strong thrash metal hint in some of the riffing, and occassionally a slight hardcore element that peeks in - as you might expect from a band playing death metal at this stage, but by and large this is brutal, classic death metal to the core. The bass is noteworthy because it has a nice "bounce" to it if that makes any sense, a really powerful tone that compliments the guitars perfectly. There are also a handful of slower, pounding riffs - heard in cuts like "Senile Pediphile" that while simple, sound distinct from what bands like Bolt Thrower or Obituary had offered up in that realm by '91...they more closely resemble the "slam" style breakdowns that Internal Bleeding would pioneer around this time - strong and with a solid sense of groove, but TDY never give them too much focus, instead supplying a good mix of fast and slow riffing to provide a generally varied and well-rounded sound. The best track on here is probably "Trained for Life", as it features the best riffs and has a solid energy running throughout it (the pinch harmonic-driven riff at 2:50 is fucking genius and one of the highest points of the whole disc).

The main point of contention for many listeners will no doubt be Dave Piekarz's vocals, which falls more in line (in terms of death metal) with the Paul Speckmann or Scott Ruth school of death vocals than that of Schuldiner or Tardy - more of a "bark" than a guttural growl, though Piekarz goes further and arguably feels more like what would happen if Roger Miret or Lou Koller swallowed a few razors, overall a more 'grisly' hardcore bark that is easily discernible in more hardcore-inspired compositions like "Stonehead". While Piekarz isn't God's gift to death metal by any means - honestly all of the afoementioned vocalists are arguably better than him...but his style is distinct and fits the flashy, brutal sound the band have going on, which is all you can really ask for. There are also some backing vocals...some gang shouts and deeper growls here and there, which were probably done by another member but since no one is credited, I don't know who did them. Only one song has available lyrics, the title track, and it's outright rape, murder, and even bordering on pedophilia...very misogynistic and pretty gruesome, even for a death metal band - probably a good decision not to release these lyrics given how sensitive people can be, as if a song with such a generic title is so disturbing, I can only imagine what tracks like "Senile Pediphile", "Fuckin' Fat Chicks", and "Enema Picnic" have in store. Conversely, bizarre and atypical death metal titles like "Roachmotel", "Gregory", and especially "The Day the Retards Walked The Earth" are also featured and certainly do leave something to the imagination.

While I'm not going to argue that Intense Brutality is some lost classic, it's a very good album and quite the solid addition to any death metal freak's collection. If you like classics such as Dreaming With the Dead, Stress-Related, or Surreality, you could do worse than giving this fucker a spin or two.