Released: 2015, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Seventeen years after issuing their rude and crude debut Gore Metal - with an emphasis on the “rude” and especially on the “crude” - Oakland splatter squad Exhumed have taken a mulligan and re-recorded it. And though the original is rightfully revered in many corners as a classic slab of gore-grind from America's answer to Carcass, it is, in all honesty, a pretty crappy sounding album.
The guitars are mushy and thin, the drums sound like someone beating on tin cans and the calamitous mix turns it all into one big wall of ragged, purulent noise. Only Matt Harvey and Ross Sewage's tag-team scream-and-barf vocals come through loud and clear. But this was by no means out of the ordinary for underground extreme metal back in the day – and the band didn't really have a great sounding album until 2003's Neil Kernon-produced Anatomy Is Destiny.
Luckily, despite near constant lineup turmoil and one five-year hiatus, Exhumed are still around to make amends and take another stab at getting Gore Metal right. In keeping with the original, Harvey, the lone remaining member from that time, rounded up Sewage and guitarist Mike Beams to participate in the re-recording to give it that authentic feel. And the band – with current members Bud Burke, Rob “Bodybag” Babcock and Mike Hamilton taking part as well – play it straight and keep it true with Gore Metal: A Necrospective 1998-2015.
This is not a re-imagining or re-interpretation. The songs are played with the same virulence and raw power of the original, and the studio polish, such as it is, is mostly there for the purpose of clarity. The band certainly do not seem to be aiming for slick, pristine sonic perfection. Plenty of warts remain, as they should.
Still, tracks like “Necromaniac,” “Limb From Limb” and “Casket Crusher” hack and slash as they were initially intended. The vocal back and forth from Harvey and Sewage is as gnarly as ever, especially since Exhumed have been moving away from the lyrical nastiness of “Vagitarian II” and “Open The Abscess” since re-animating in 2010. Only the drum performance here is markedly improved, with Mike Hamilton’s athletic precision revitalizing Col Jones' spray-gun flailing of yore.
Necrospective might not be as cacophonous as the original, but it packs a more lethal punch. And though the cover of Sodom's “Sodomy And Lust” from the first Gore Metal is noticeable in its absence here, that hardly matters. The Exhumed of old sound so much better ripping through their own “In My Human Slaughter House” and “Blazing Corpse” once again that you probably won't miss it.