Reviewed: January 2021
Released: 2021, Memento Mori
Reviewer: Kira Levine
Five years after their self-titled debut, Canadian old-school death metal duo Altered Dead have Returned To Life with their sophomore full-length, which will see its initial physical release through label Memento Mori.
A doom-esque introduction announces “Mental Suicide” with its eerie notes, gargling vocals and buzzing riffs. The guitars are pretty high in the mix throughout the album, which successfully communicates the OSDM vibe.
The passionate growl of “returned to fucking life!” mid-song is an attention-grabbing moment on title track “Returned to Life” where the vocals are concerned, the expletive exaggerating the line and making it the most intelligible utterance here.
One of the shorter offerings, “Final Pathogen” manages to hold its own on the album with its distinctive intro and its length actually working to its advantage as it wastes no time firing on all cylinders. Despite running for less than two-and-half minutes, there are still a lot of drama-filled and tension-building moments that help set the mood for track four.
“Prosodemic Realms” sees the rhythm section take the centre stage as much as the guitars, in harmonious war with the giant riffs.
Following swiftly after, “Empostomb” demonstrates that Altered Dead are able to pack a punch even when not performing at break-neck speeds, ending with a satisfyingly ominous outro.
“Thrawing in Agony” returns to the album’s usual thrashing fashion. While only spanning three minutes, it really paints a picture of its name with all its twists and turns.
Picking up where song six left off, “Ensanguine Path” does not slacken the speed at all, the drums hammering away through various fast-paced melodies.
Up next, “Rotting Outwards” boasts some great transformations that allow the guitar parts to shine. There is a moment that brings to mind track one’s doom vibes, before morphing into a different kind of beast. Definitely one of the most blackened death appearances on the album.
Altered Dead continue to play with pace in “…Of the Oppressed”, and this track being just shy of five minutes in length gives them enough time to showcase their ability. The return of black and doom metal flavours keep things interesting, while the strategically-placed breakdown adds a unique touch.
A cover of Celtic Frost’s “Into the Crypts of Rays” takes the listener back more than thirty-five years, though it feels as if you have been in the 1980s for the entire album. With its pummelling beat and disturbing lyrics based on infamous historical figure Gilles de Rais, the final song fits in well with its nine predecessors.
While the axe-work is positively intrusive, it is Altered Dead’s flirtations with other sub-genres and unique tempo transitions on Returned To Life that make it both an engaging and memorable death metal record.
Returned To Life will be available from 25th January! Stay tuned on Altered Dead’s Bandcamp page for the digital release, Memento Mori’s site listing for the forthcoming CD version, or pre-order from a choice of limited edition vinyl copies via Fucking Kill Records here.