Released: 2009, HPGD Productions
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Ex Dementia is one of the best underground death metal bands that you’re currently not listening to. Following up last year’s IN THE CHAPTERS OF HORROR EP, the band has unleashed their latest slab of bloody, metal pulp, aptly titled THE RED MASS. Picking up right where the EP left off, THE RED MASS continues the band’s tradition of “not taking ourselves too seriously” old school, horror flavored death metal in the vein of Exhumed, Abcess, and Impaled. Featuring eight new tracks and a cover of Venom’s “Welcome to Hell,” THE RED MASS delivers consistently solid material, but leaves you wanting more.
For those unfamiliar with the band, Ex Dementia is a young three piece from New Jersey that have found a comfortable niche doling out stripped down, horror soaked traditional death metal, while maintaining the chewed, rotten tongue planted firmly in cheek. Images of monsters, spooks, and gore abound throughout the album, but with more of a b-movie grindhouse spin than most of their contemporaries. And it’s exactly this unpretentiousness that makes Ex Dementia so damn listenable. The tunes are direct and to the point (usually clocking in around the two minute mark), with many again featuring some humorous intro clips from various forgotten horror flicks (“Dead! Nude! Dancers!” in particular). Musically, the band hasn’t strayed far from previous material. Deep guttural vocals with the occasional accentuating high end scowl, guitar riffs pulled straight out of 1991, and plenty of bouncing tunes that should get the circle pit moving effortlessly.
The CD layout and liner notes look great, again featuring a comic book/graphic art style approach. I said it before with their last release and I’ll say it again here – care and attention like this prove that underground releases that will likely see minimal distribution don’t have to look like somebody’s kid brother drew the cover with a sharpie. The album also features some guest appearances from Ross Sewage (Impaled) and Chris Reifert (you should know who he is), but at 9 tracks ballparking at around 2 minutes each (you do the math), THE RED MASS is over just as it’s getting good. It’s great to keep your fans wanting more, but the album isn’t much longer than the previous EP. The songs are good, the production is tight, and the band sound like they’re firing on all cylinders; it’d be great to hear what they could do with a few more tracks and some bigger arrangements.
But minor gripes aside, THE RED MASS is a lot of fun. As an old school cynic who’s “been there, heard that”, this is one release that I’ve actually been looking forward to. Listening to Ex Dementia brings me back to the days of ordering 7 inches through the Relapse mail order catalog and trading tapes with my friends. Death metal was new, it was fresh, and most importantly, it was entertainingly morbid fun. With THE RED MASS, Ex Dementia continues to promote death metal’s good ole days without sounding dated or nostalgic. You can pick up THE RED MASS through the either the band’s website or through their label, but either way you should pick it up.