GHUSAGhUSa hail from France and have been treading the boards of the extreme metal underground since forming in 1989. However they only have one full length album to their name (2006’s ‘Letter to my Son’(s)’), and a number of Eps and Demos which can be counted on one hand. This 2 CD compilation collects the aforementioned debut album as a re-issue with bonus tracks from their demo material, as well as covers, a new EP and previously unreleased material.

Disc 1 features an EP, (entitled ‘Come Sweet Death), which kicks off with a Dismember cover of ‘Casket Garden’, which faithfully recreates the original’s deep Swedeath guitar tones rumbling away nicely and growled vocals bellowing angrily. The bands own material takes on a similar stance, with ‘No God for the Living’ upping the tempo, rattling the teeth in your head with crunchy sound which would fool anyone into thinking these guys were actually from Stockholm rather than the dankest depths of gay Paris. More faithful covers of Entombed’s ‘Blessed Be’ and Grave’s ‘Soulless’ bookend another original track ‘Genocide’, which has a creepier edge to it, starting as a slow and crawling double bass drum led gut churner which kicks into a faster gear to get the necks snapping towards the end.

Disc 2 is the CD which features the band’s debut and extra bits and bobs as previously mentioned, instantly showcasing a more claustrophobic muddier production, with bass that feels as if it’s pushing against your ear drums like water pressure. The Swedeath sound is still apparent, although less so than in the newer, crisper material on Disc 1. With that said, they incorporate a nice mixture of various styles of death metal in their sound, with an old school approach to song-writing which brings to mind Bolt Thrower or Benediction (indeed, there is a Benediction cover of ‘Violation Domain’ to highlight the influence if any convincing was required). There’s plenty of angry chunky riffage going on, with the occasional twangs of fat stringed bass reverberating above the rumbling guitars, touches of gently strummed acoustic, sparse synth and even some operatic female vocals and clean male vocals towards the end to mix things up.

All in all, GhUSa are clearly indebted to the masters of death, and this as a compilation album allows them to pay homage to their idols, whilst allowing them to showcase their own material and re-issue their debut album all in one neat package. While their own material doesn’t quite match the greatness of the classic covers, it still stands pretty strongly due to the similarity in styles and the shining passion in the songwriting and musicianship. You can’t fault the value for money you get with this release – it’s packed with material old and new and a stack of covers too. Whilst you won’t find yourself hearing much in the way of anything new, GhUSa have created an ode to Death Metal here, with it’s worth a punt for that reason alone in my books. Decent!

(6.5/10 Lars Christiansen)