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This...HORDE! - 95%

demonomania, August 9th, 2006

Picture yourself wandering through the French countryside. Cool breezes, lush vegitation, historic landmarks, etc. You're enjoying a baguette, thinking how great it was to take this little vacation and enjoy a cultured getaway. Suddenly, from around the next corner, another walker on this beautiful day lurches into view. Three others slowly drag themselves up the dirt road behind him. Something is very odd about their movements - are they drunk? You wonder if they've sampled any of the fine Merlots you enjoyed from this region. Their clothes seem tattered as well - perhaps they are farmers in the vineyards.

As they draw closer, the baguette falls out of your mouth in terror. You can now see that each is horribly mangled, their skin ripped to shreds, blood pouring from their mouths, flies swarming around their open wounds. Before you can react, they are upon you! Rending and tearing, they begin pulling the flesh from your bones as you scream in pain. For a last, brutal insult before cracking your skull open with a rock to eat your brain, they tear your balls off and shove them down your throat.

This is YYRKOON's Occult Medicine, a tremendous album that is much like being devoured by zombies. There is an overbearing and grim production much like Aborted (whom they have some ties to), a frenzied death metal attack that would make Bloodbath proud, some underpinnings of thrash to the death that might remind you (just a bit) of Vader, and heroic guitar solos straight outta the 80's. The vocals are generally a low but understandable growl, which occasionally turns to a high shriek, and which FORTUNATELY rarely turns to a clean melodic voice, but only in chorus sections. Lyrics are good as well - while there is some bad English from time to time the overall theme of "Herbert West - Reanimator" comes through strong. The drumming is BAD FUCKING ASS, blasts, thrash beats, and double bass madness that drives everything else - and thanks to the aforementioned production they sound huge. Guitars, as mentioned, go into championship mode for the soloing, but are oft quite content to pump out death/thrash riff after riff - almost all are quite memorable and I guarantee they will stick in your head for quite a bit.

Standout songs include the inescapable REVENANT HORDE - this song starts fast as hell, settles into a nice midpace groove, lays into an excellent solo over an amazing riff, repeats, and then just goes right back into that solo over the riff right to the end - if you do not bang your head for the last minute or two of this song YOU ARE NOT METAL. Lyrics about zombies wasting people=good times.

The three tracks toward the end (TRAPPED INTO LIFE, SURGICAL DISTORTION, and SCHIZOPHRENIC CARNAGE) also pack a hefty wallop. SCHIZOPHRENIC CARNAGE is certainly one of the best on the album, with hilarious lyrics about an angry guy wasting his family at the dinner table. Yesssss. And if you can get the chorus of TRAPPED INTO LIFE out of your head after hearing it a few times, you're a better man than I. If they played serious heavy metal on the radio, SURGICAL DISTORTION wouldn't be a bad pick for a single - it comes close to following a verse/chorus/verse structure and is a burly brawler throughout.

The first three songs after the medical-style intro (DOCTOR X, CENSORED PROJECT, and BLASPHEMY) are each entertaining blasts as well - maniac speed coupled with slow, brooding sections that will have you prepared for non-elective surgery. While these tracks don't stand out as much for me, I still deeply enjoy them. The slower section at the end of BLASPHEMY rules.
The title track is a winner too, though a bit slower and more sinister. After a very disturbing intro featuring some questionable operation-room procedures, it goes into a lurching gait with some well-utilized and not overdone clean vocalizations.

So if fast, aggressive, evil, but not blast-wankering death metal is your thing, I can GUARANGODDAMNTEE that you will enjoy "Occult Medicine." There may be a bad song or two, but when the rest of the tracks are so complete and soooo vicious, you can't go wrong. Who would have thought that the French could put out something that borrows a bit from the old and a bit from the new and produce a grim medical journey unlike any I've ever taken? Who knew they were this angry. After being mauled by the YYRKOON horde, your twisted corpse will begin twitching, then slowly start crawling on its belly in search of the next vicitim - whichever metalhead happens to come across this piece of art.