Review: Exhumed – ‘Necrocracy’

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What are the constants with Exhumed? Well, they like to take their time. After a decade simmering in the grave, Matt Harvey resurrected the band for 2011’s All Guts No Glory. It’s taken three long years for Harvey to return, this time with Necrocracy, a term that translates to “a Government still under the leadership of a dead leader”. What else remains the same with Exhumed? The massive line-up changes. Matt Harvey is the only one who remains, though he is the nucleus of Exhumed. If the band was a death metal Voltron, Matt Harvey would always the head.

This time around, Harvey is joined by Bassist/Vocalist Rob Babcock, drummer Mike Hamilton and former Exhumed bassist-turned-guitar player Bud Burke. United, these four men may have created the most musically challenging album Exhumed has ever put out. Don’t get me wrong, I love Exhumed, but you can’t deny the Carcass love in what they do. With Necrocracy, Harvey is just as focused on mid-tempo riffs, as he is with full on blast-beat assaults. The riffs are heavier here, groovier than before. It’s as if Harvey wanted to put out a mature death metal record. Oh, perish the thought!!

Opening track “Coins On The Eyes” is a nice introduction. Exhumed isn’t skimping on the blast parts here, but rather centering the song around them. The blasts are used for dynamics. Thick, slabs of guitar riff madness, all played for more of a head-banging, chugging, feel, are juxtaposed against the blistering speed. “Coins On The Eyes” opens up a new door for Exhumed, one they exploit throughout the entire record.

“Dysmorphic”, takes the new love of dynamics and adds some stuttering drum and guitar work. The song comes within a hare’s  breath of being prog-rock, but settles into a fairly devastating groove just before becoming too busy. “(So Passes) The Glory Of Death” is more in line with older Exhumed, relying heavily on the Testament/Alex Skolnick leads of Bud Burke. “The Shape Of Death To Come” is a showstopper, especially with the killer double bass opening, and random mid-tempo switches. Death Metal is a largely predictable genre, Exhumed manage to side-step most of those clichés on Necrocracy.

Most exciting about this album, is how Exhumed have worked in catchy elements to what they do. “Sickened” is a blast-part-lover’s dream, but still a memorable tune. Unlike most Death Metal, where the songs bleed together into one, long, jackhammer migraine, the songs on Necrocracy are actually songs. “Carrion Call” comes equipped with hard hitting guitars, but also a chorus that will have you chanting along, and a mosh part that brings out the need to break everything around you. Stem to stern, Necrocracy is not a “kick ass  Death Metal album”, it’s just a kick ass album.

Cookie monster vocals? Yeah, those suck. I’ve never enjoyed that vocal style, and I never will. Exhumed are especially hard to figure out, since they have this righteous scream vocal line that always outshines the boring cookie monster growls.  Forgiving the vocals, Exhumed have raised the bar of Death Metal. Bands who think they can get away with regurgitating old clichés, think again.

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