Even though you’ve just started reading this, I’m sure you’re not really curious about how this new Exhumed album sounds. After all, you already know that. Ever since the band’s formation in 1990, they’ve shown an obvious fondness for all things gory and filthy. Over those three decades of existence very little has changed, musically. Okay, the musical focus over the years has shifted more from classic Goregrind to a Grindcore/Death Metal mixed bag, but the basics are still intact. Yet, although the band took a short break between 2005 and 2010 and certainly not all albums have been of equally consistent quality, Exhumed has always proven to be a champion of the Carcass-driven Gory Death/Grind sound. So, basically, Exhumed is still pretty much Exhumed. Having said all that, let’s grab our chainsaw, pickaxe and shovel and let’s get this dissection started…
To the (relative) outsider it may seem that all Exhumed albums are quite interchangeable, since they all have the same structure and musical elements: the fast, chopping drums, the sawing guitars and the double vocals. However, the real connoisseur among us will be able to identify the differences without too much effort. If we were to conduct a small survey among Exhumed fans, I would venture to predict that the first two albums (‘Gore Metal’ from 1998 and ‘Slaughtercult’ from 2000) would still come out as the most favourite. Since then, the band has released a whole series of (split) EPs and albums, among which there are certainly some very good titles, such as ‘Anatomy Is Destiny’ (2003) and ‘All Guts, No Glory’ (2011). However, the band has sometimes missed the mark, such as with the ‘Garbage Daze Re-Regurgitated’, on which the band performed 12 covers with a dubious result, not to mention the completely unnecessary re-recording and downright abolishment of ‘Gore Metal’ from 2015.
This new album is not only steeped in fantastic artwork, but also presents Exhumed in top form again. As ever, the blastbeats and deliciously meaty chugging riffs swirl around each other, and Matt Harvey and Ross Sewage swap places firing vocal fury at humanity. The trademark furiously screaming whammy-bar solos also still come along and provide a fresh sound and add to the stunning dynamics. For a genre that is not known for its versatility, Exhumed always knows how to add a certain twist, so that it never gets boring or weak, and, above all, extremely recognizable as their own. Of course, Matt Harvey has proven himself over the years as a gifted guitarist and excellent song writer, not only in Exhumed, which beats almost all other bands in the genre, but also with his other bands he regularly shows that he is not a narrow-minded musician and clearly has a penchant for classic Heavy Metal. Although we’ve heard Exhumed do this many, many times before, it’s still just always a pleasure to dive in. I’ve given this album a lot of spins already, but keep sinking the needle into the grooves with great pleasure every time. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the strength of Exhumed.
When you step back and listen to this album in the context of the bands’ discography and place it in the overall genre, the most stunning conclusion to draw is that Exhumed always sounds fresh and energetic. Even today, in a genre that is pretty much stagnant quite condemned to a narrow classic Carcass-inspired concept. It is quite an achievement to still have a leading role after more than 30 years and bring music that still matters. It doesn’t innovate or surprise, but it still sounds like Matt and Ross are throwing it at each other like a bunch of guys in their early twenties.
Despite their sporadic missteps, with ‘To The Dead’ Exhumed proves once again to be a band to take to your heart. Their never-ending and infectious enthusiasm for the Goregrind/Death Metal genre is admirable and deserves more than only a statue in the Gory Hall Of Fame, it also definitely deserves a place in your vinyl or CD collection.