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Thematic sounds for serial killers - 95%

Byrgan, May 17th, 2005

Imagine certain people or workers you've passed as they dwindle in their individual worlds and peer behind eyes that might be strange from another's viewpoint. A way to understand that person better might be to get inside their head a little, and one thing I found that is familiar to us all, is we each have our own theme music to get us through the day. For instance, if you transcend into a rowdy biker barkeep's cranium, you'd either hear a combination of AC/DC, Venom or Motorhead blaring at full volume. Entering the mind of a stripper would probably be a cross between Motley Crue and The Mentors. Homeless folks listen to Thorogood's "I Drink Alone" nonstop, and easy goin' potheads listen to some hit by Cheech and Chong continuously. Now, there's a difference between hearing straight music, if still a little off, and then other sounds that are less than straight, crooked at best. Just imagine what noises went through serial killer Bundy, Ramirez, Gacy or Dahmer's heads as they took the life out of bodies. This is where The Ravenous attempts to put those horrid noises and voices into a translatable musical context. If one comes out at that for you.

It's nearly pitch black, the only light glows off your stereo, which blindingly shines into your eyes. Noises come forth in multitudes. "Shrieks of the Mutilated" howls and makes you grasp your tormented skull. To further enrage your thoughts "Dead, Cut Up, and Ready to Fuck" gives you motivation for the kill. Song after song enlists more and more victims on this intense debut from Killjoy of Necrophagia infamy, Chris Reifert of Autopsy recognition and Dan Lilker known to S.O.D. and various other bands.

It takes a lot of experimentation to get an album to sound as twisted as the likes of "Assembled in Blasphemy." The main ingredient is reverb, distortion and what I'm guessing to be plenty of mind-altering substances. For a general comparison, Autopsy's earlier albums come to mind, but even then, it is still pretty filthy sounding in comparison.

The tone of the guitar sounds like it literally rolled around in the mud, and then some. The barbaric riffs vary from occasionally palm muted mid-sections to faster portions, where they'll use anywhere from oddly arranged chords to tremolo picked. This also includes an abundance of slow, thick and sludgy guitar lines. "Keep My Grave Open" is a good example of how they'll strum just a few notes in snail-like tempo, but how the delivery is executed makes it as heavy as a 5-ton wrecking ball. This uses dual vocals. They aren't sided completely with Reifert or completely with Killjoy, but instead they'll both scream or include various add-ons while the other takes turn with the main chorus. Reifert's vocals are typically lower growls. The emotional impact is like a large animal being slowly tortured with acid poured over every inch of its body. Killjoy's vocals are the higher of the two by being primarily screechy, but in some areas he still manages to go on to lower levels that growl. His vocal range changes so many tones and placements, that it's hard to characterize them into a single description. But when they're higher, just imagine screeching your voice so bad you're about to lose it, but still go ahead and strain it anyway by spewing that last little breath or effort you have left. Setting the disgusting pace, the drums can interchange between thrash-like momentum, mid-paced tempo and some slower sections that might serve up some characteristic tom patterned beats. Reifert can play along primitively and also spice it up by throwing in some rolls and other various fills to give life, or death, to a certain song. Dan Lilker dishes out a heavily distorted guitar and manages to add another soiled notch to the overall guitar sound.

The various interludes and voice snippets are a viable source on "Assembled in Blasphemy." In one instance, they use a sample taken directly from the film "Phantasm" in the beginning of the song "Keep My Grave Open" by saying the iconic phrase, "The funeral is about to begin." These are different from what Mortician or even Skinless did with their take on samples. Typically the formula of those bands is to play the intro and then have the music come blazing in. Instead, The Ravenous mostly blend them into a song while the actual music is playing, that way there are no breaks and everything is going on at once. Instead of being put in easy to guess areas or just as a novelty that wears thin, it can effectively create this escalating sense of horror and panic in how the band chooses and places them.

"Assembled in Blasphemy" is a high recommendation in my book. As brainsick as it is, there was actual blood and sweat put into this project. Which is surprising because Killjoy had two other projects going. And one might erroneously pass this up as another failed "all-star" project. If you take some semblances of the music of Autopsy, mix it with similar vocals of second era Necrophagia, add distorted bass guitar, some eye of a frog and some goat's blood for extra measure. What do you get? Well, I guess you're going to have to find, hunt or track this down to see. And, who knows? It might just end up being your theme.