Friday, 19 June 2015

#379 Deceased - As the Wierd Travel On

What is an album review for, exactly? Nothing, all those years ago when I could barely make a good paragraph, prepared me for the sheer amount of thought which that problem needs. As a reviewer, your job - or hobby - consists of a strange and at times unwieldy paradox of activities. One one hand, you might be discussing a record which the listener has heard before... in which case, the most tasty cuts of the review, to them, will almost always be those which help the listener capture what they felt in the first place; positive or negative. On the other hand, you might be trying to explain an album which the listener has not heard the record before, which leaves you as nothing but a glorified cheerleader. A great album will do a much more compelling job of selling itself than you ever will, leaning out from behind it whispering "it is actually very good, you know". Reviewing is a two-handed job; I need to cater to both of the above. Likewise, who am I to think I could sway a readers established opinion about something? It's all very confusing, and I'm still not very good at it. I suppose a well-rounded review must consist of a descriptive element to entice people who haven't heard the album... an evaluative element; is what I've just described a good thing? - and a persuasive element; "I'd say they did the good thing even better than on the last record". The real problem is that, however much or little you ruminate over all of this, the biggest problem remains... "how the fuck do I explain Deceased to someone?" 

The first few Deceased records can more or less be called death metal. After that, things can get tricky. It's thrashy, it's still death metal, and in many respects, it has the melodic properties of traditional metal... ultimately, it's hard to label, and that very much attests to its quality. It's deliciously distinct. In even the bands earliest work, however, there's more than a subtle hint of very interesting things going-on beyond the surface, expressions of a band who were very comfortable to do their own thing. Listen to 1995's "The Blueprints of Madness" and you have a fairly sturdy specimen of death metal with some interesting symptoms brewing. Jump forward ten years to 2005's "As The Weird Travel On" and you discover a band whose evolution has been of downright mammoth proportions... and I say this without intentionally knocking their early work either. The record bursts straight out of the burial-plot without pomp or ceremony. No eerie intro track, instrumental or otherwise, just an immediate and blistering outburst of memorable lead-guitar melody followed by King Fowley's gruff roaring vocals, and in this fashion, the record is content to continue as it begins; relentless in this respect, and all the better for it, forty-eight minutes of swift, ghoulish uniqueness.

Some death metal bands borrow their lyrics from a medical textbook. Some borrow their lyrics straight from a Satanic tome... Deceased instead drank some beers, watched a stack of horror-movies, and picked up a well thumbed copy of "Weird Tales". Just as the latter may often prove a more colourful and vibrant source of inspiration, Deceased take up this vibrancy in their music. "As the Weird..." is a strikingly catchy record. The chassis, provide an undulating, swaggering strength with a thrashy death-metal intensity; rumbling, rampaging riff-work and energetic drums. Mounted upon this is the charmingly spooky narrative style of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond, bringing a more whimsical and playful side of the record to light; the kind of death metal which still wears sunglasses indoors sometimes, too. Most of the tracks embrace the story-telling side of things, and deliver with quintessentially old-school rhyming vocal-patterns, giving all of the tracks memorable lines, both in content and structure. This is crowned with the excellent guitar-work, with lip-licking hooks, melodies and solos straight from the ancient scriptures of the early-eighties, creating a soaring and fantastically filthy amalgam, a sandwich of well-balanced elements. A little less brutal and guttural than its forebears perhaps, but nonetheless undiluted in its punch; succeeding utterly in delivering spine-tingling thrills. Likewise, the charm of the spooky, pulp-magazine-horror lyrics does not rob the music of a credibility and power, rounding it out beautifully; it's fun, it's damn fun, but you can still thrive on its energy when you're walking down the road, pissed-off, or in need of motivation.

As usual, I finish this review with a sense of uncertainty that I've achieved anything I especially set out to do - but nonetheless, I still find enjoyment in picking an album and sitting for a few hours really having a think about it. So I suppose writing reviews, in answer to the question I opened with, as far as I'm concerned, is for fun. Whether it serves any other purpose very much depends on who stumbles upon it, and I hope, if you're reading this, that these several hundred words have been some use to you. As ever, the most informative part of this review, for those interested in Deceased, is probably the YouTube link. A song is worth 869 words, after all.

This is a definite 9/10.

Deceased on Metal Archives