Released: 2016, Morbid Visions Music/VonFrost Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
I recently endured a weekend stint aboard a cruise ship, and as such excursions are prone to do, there was a Broadway styled song and dance production in the evening hours to entertain the drunken throngs of sunburnt vacationers. This particular production was a medley paying homage to the highlights of rock n’ roll over the decades, putting a family friendly spin on everything from The Beatles to Queen in the process.
…TO THE BONE reminds me a lot of that cruise ship production. It’s an original production celebrating the best a genre has to offer, but this time with less jazz hands and more blast beats.
The inter-continental duo known as Macabra have been kickin’ it old school for a few years already, fanning the flames of classic death metal with feverish zeal. Their latest …TO THE BONE intentionally elicits recollections of death metal’s best and brightest circa ’90-’92, but adopts such invocations cleverly enough to avoid sounding openly plagiaristic. The 8 new tunes are certainly original, but make no mistake, this is a death metal’s greatest hits package. You’ll hear the spooky synth effects of Nocturnus (Louis Panzer might be owed a royalty check), the pseudo prog leanings of early Pestilence, the slick melodic precision of mid-evolution Death, and even some LEGION-era Deicide riffage; even the artwork is courtesy of the legendary Dan Seagrave.
The craftsmanship in both the songwriting and performances demonstrate the level of effort that these guys have employed in order to get it “right”. Whether it’s the sweeping mysticism of “Death Speculation”, the anachronistic, darkened melodies of “Global Brainwash Conspiracy”, or the raging, guttural ferocity of “Cannibal Black Market”, …TO THE BONE pulls you in with familiarity and then aurally disembowels you with the skill of an abattoir slicer.
With …TO THE BONE, Macabra manage to pull off a feat that’s more complicated than you’d think it to be. It’s an album that for all intents and purposes could’ve been released in 1991 but has the polish and reflection of a death metal album that was most definitely written in 2016. Like the miles of smiles cruise ship performance mentioned earlier, …TO THE BONE celebrates the roots of death metal and the bands that laid the groundwork for what the scene has become today.