My last visitation to the world of The Dead was their 2nd album from 2009 ‘Ritual Executions’ which I actually reviewed in the pre-Ave Noctum ‘Ye Olde Metal Team UK’ days, lapping up their twisted doomy take on death metal. Luckily for me, album number three ‘Deathsteps to Oblivion’ lands in my lap, and guess what? They can still kick out the jams as they did before, but have added some interesting new touches to their sound.
What we have here is quite a varied bag musically, with the opening two tracks ‘Maze of Fire’ and ‘Disturbing the Dead’ very much relying on their usual doomy death metal, played as if the band member’s lives depended on it – where you can almost hear fingernails snapping away from cuticles upon every guitar chord smashed, bloody knuckles smearing across drumskins and gelatinous lung butter dripping from the mic-shield. The Dead combine the hazy doominess of Autopsy and the unwholesome murk of Incantation, twisting it into their own strangely hypnotic style, with an unhealthy dosage of sludge along the way. By the time we hit the mid-way point of the album with ‘The God Beyond’, it kicks off with a crazy speeding blasting section which comes completely out of the blue, they then begin to venture into a strange otherworldly place musically, enthralling and yet unsettling, almost psychedelic in nature with female vocals singing angelically over a repetitive refrain which really takes you aback with its boldness. ‘Terminus’ comes next, featuring a tribal beat and eerie guitars peeling back and forth, rain shakers and hand drums aplenty, before the grimy guitar tone features once more to flay and rupture all that is corporeal which stands in its path. Come the album closer (which shares the album’s name), we once more venture into a sludgy, deathly disgusting plod, with vomiting vocals and destroyed instruments all combining to pound the message home that this is indeed the heart of the band.
Similarly to my reaction to their previous effort, these guys certainly know how to create a niche in a scene. Although there are a ton of bands whose style The Dead borrow from at times (most of whom I’ve mentioned previously), it’s hard to tack them into one bracket soundwise. All I know is, The Dead are grimy, filthy, deathly and sludgy as hell, and I wouldn’t have them any other way. Good shit!
(8.5/10 Lars Christiansen)