Deceased have been plying their morbid trade on official releases since way back in 1991. It’s been a long, long time since their last full length album, the excellent “Surreal Overdose” back in 2011, but I suspect not even death itself would be able to keep this most true of extreme metal bands from producing their spooky cacophony. For those not in the know, (and seriously, if you aren’t, get exploring their back catalogue now), Drummer/Vocalist “King” Fowley and co. have been stubbornly producing their own hybrid brand of extreme metal without fear or favour on their own terms since the beginning. It’s an eclectic mix with a thrash base, elements of death metal and more than a grave-dust encrusted handful of classic NWOBHM.

“Ghostly White” has crawled out from  the grave, hauling its body out from internment. From the harrowing introduction of “Mrs. Allardyce”, part VHS b-movie horror show, part Angel Witch-on-crack turbo-charged NWOBHM, you can sense that you’re in for something really special.  Second track, “A Palpation’s Warning” comes howling out of the speakers like a banshee, like a lost number from “Show No Mercy”. “To Serve The Insane” does the Mercyful Fate blend of supernatural sinister melody better than – well, anyone else to be frank.

Deceased have been around for a long time, but they haven’t picked up any bad habits or taken any of the more trendy musical cues along the way, instead stubbornly sticking to a mesmerising mix of classic riffs, blazing guitar solos, burbling bass lines and thrashed drum skins. The gravelly yelp of Mr Fowley is an ever constant, narrating the macabre tales with, I suspect, more than a little tongue in cheek. Their songwriting game is stronger than ever though, with absolute bangers like “The Shivers” being something that you could quite well expect to have found on “Don’t Break the Oath”. It’s an absolutely wonderful track, the one which ordinarily most other bands would write and then rest on and play endlessly at concerts; yet here it’s just one in a number of frankly extraordinary quality. At over thirteen minutes, “Gem of Distorted Lore” is the “Hallowed be Thy Name” of the album, an Epic sprawl that takes the listener through a number of genres, but never abandoning the core of the song.

In terms of the production – well, I guess this one will keep some younger listeners perplexed. Deceased have gone for a dry, almost vintage production tone which hearkens back to the glory days of heavy metal, and as a consequence it lacks a little of the artificial loudness and in-your-face punch of modern productions, but to my ears is none the worse for all that. There’s a very genuine authenticity to this kind of treble-biased heavy metal that belongs to the riff-hungry style of metal that unashamedly worships the guitar. It just eight tracks long, it also has inspiration from classic albums, in that it doesn’t wear out its welcome. A lot of fans will tell you that their “classic album” is 1997’s “Fearless Undead Machines” (and yes, it is great), but to my ears, this is the best album they’ve ever put out. Pure, furious and artful heavy metal.

Long may Deceased remain undead. An absolute gem.

(9/10 Chris Davison)