Released: 2016, Hells Headbangers
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Back when tape trading was a thing, I had a pen pal from Ohio who sent me Embalmer’s INTO THE OVEN demo on cassette (shout out to Angie from Parma if you’re reading this). As much as I thought I was on the cutting edge of all things death metal, that tape was easily the sickest, most brutal thing I’d ever heard up to that point. Fast forward to 1995, and Relapse Records releases their first official 7”, THERE WAS BLOOD EVERYWHERE. Embalmer had taken death metal sickness to a whole new level. Alongside the likes of Mortician, Incantation and Deceased, it seemed like the band was poised for bigger and better things. But for reasons too numerous to detail in this forum, it’d be another 10 years before their full length debut, 13 FACES OF DEATH, would see the light of day, and despite a handful of promos and comps, Embalmer would lie dormant for yet another 10 years.
But some corpses just won’t stay in the ground.
Re-animated with an almost entirely new lineup (drummer Roy Stewart being the lone holdout), Embalmer have just released their sophomore full length, EMANATIONS FROM THE CRYPT through the mighty Hells Headbangers Records. Given how far (and extreme) death metal has evolved over the last 20 years, EMANATIONS FROM THE CRYPT doesn’t quite have the same shock value that it would’ve had back in the day, but it’s still a quality throwback to a time when death metal was raw, pungent, and covered in someone else’s blood.
The 11 new tracks (12 if you include an outro) stick pretty close to the blueprints of madness from so long ago – slam riffs, blast beats, and pig squeals. The album starts out furiously strong – “Dead Female Stalker”, “I Am the Embalmer” blitz with murderous intentions, while the title track throws in some doom riffs before lighting the crematorium fires. “The Coroner’s Report” hits the slam full steam, while “The Casket Calls” brings the slow and spooky. And from there, it tends to get a little non-descript. The tunes get faster, the vocals get more guttural, and the pinched harmonics are in full effect. But the longer the album progresses, the less important it feels. Letting this album play in the background throughout my workday, it was tough to differentiate one track from the next, which gets me wondering if I’d be this involved with the record if I didn't have a sentimental attachment?
Philosophical debates aside, EMANATIONS FROM THE CRYPT delivers on its intentions - to resuscitate Embalmer for a new generation of fans through the only way they know how – blunt force, old school death metal. There’s plenty to like on this record, just maybe in small doses.