Fetid Zombie – Transmutations
Reviewed: July 2021
Released: 2021, Transcending Obscurity
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Mark Riddick is a genuine heavy metal savant. Between designing the cover art for literally dozens of your favorite death and black metal bands, stewarding multiple bands of his own at any given point (of which he is typically either the sole member or primary contributor), and the dizzying amount of DIY EPS, splits, singles and full lengths he’s released, the guy has no shortage of inspiration. And the kicker is that those releases are reliably really, really good. Like – it’s unfair that one guy has been gifted with so much creativity and talent good. TRANSMUTATIONS is the latest release under his Fetid Zombie moniker, and you guessed it, this thing absolutely rips.
The thing with Fetid Zombie releases is that they’re never what they appear to be at face value. There’s a generally a thick veneer of velvet caped,goth-infused OSDM that acts as the lure, but just like any good bait and switch, the tunes quickly shape shift and evolve into something all together different that somehow ends up being better than what you thought you were signing up for. Album opener “Chrysopoeia” begins things unassumingly enough with an enchanting female soprano, some melodic mid-tempo riffs, and a thick guttural growls. And then it turns into an Iron Maiden jam with layers of melodic guitar harmonies and some ridiculously slick shredding before finding its way back to grind town.
The same can be said of “Dreamless Sleep Awaits.” With a sorrowful intro that borrows liberally from The Cure’s “Prayers For Rain”, the tune progressively leans into its heavier core for the guts of the tune, but the guitar solos and rhythms sound like they were hijacked straight off of a Dokken record. “Beyond Andromeda” is a personal favorite though; it’s a little more even tempered in execution, but I’m a sucker for the kind of old school Tiamat/Anathema synths that counterbalance the rhythm n’ growls.
You could call TRANSMUTATIONS a success purely on the merits of how quickly you’ll find yourself invested in the album and the genuine curiosity it breeds in wanting to hear what happens next. But this album is packed to the guts with plenty of killer and only the occasional filler. Fetid Zombie’s discography is long enough to give Coffins a run for their money, but TRANSMUTATIONS is an unquestionable standout within that body of work. Heavy, diverse, incredibly well crafted and executed, this is the kind of zombie you won’t mind gnawing on your frontal lobe.