By Jason Caron
I am sometimes a very lazy metalhead. Which is characteristic, of course, but usually when concerning household chores and hygiene rather than listening to metal. Certain legendary bands spend a lot of time in my back burner, an album or sometimes several collecting dust somewhere while I listen to other things. For example, it took me years to properly appreciate Black Sabbath.
Californian goregrind grandpappies Exhumed fall into this category. I recognize the name, and always knew that they were a pretty big deal, but I never got around to listening to them. There’s no time like the present to get on track, of course, and there’s no better way to do so than their fantastic returning-from-the-dead-with-a-vengeance album, All Guts, No Glory. Perhaps this is the perfect Exhumed album for anyone to start with, as it’s a sudden stab in the gut with a rusty meat hook of everything I’ve been missing since 1992.
In perfect grind form, the pace of the album is relentless and unforgiving. Riff after riff after blast after scream after roar, it constantly maintains tension and refreshes itself, never failing prey to monotony. It only ever slows down (well, slow for Exhumed, anyway… by anyone else’s standards it’s still blistering) to lull you into a false sense of security, such as the final riff of track five, “Death Knell”. Immediately after, without warning, “Distorted and Twisted to Form”, well, distorts and twists you to form. The production is the perfect mix of polish and grit, with every note of every frantic guitar solo screaming through the buzz-saw texture. The vocals! I have a hard time taking dual vocalists in this style seriously sometimes, as it’s so often either imitated and done poorly (The Devil Wears Prada, I’m looking at you) and/or it comes off as campy and hilarious (Cambridge ON brutal death metal madmen Disgust being a particularly suitable example of this, although they’re easily one of my favourite goregrind bands because of that). Exhumed don’t offer even a morsel of cheese, however, and both vocalists are savage and engaging throughout.
All in all, the album is excellent throughout, but perhaps just a touch too consistent. It’s difficult to pick out any stand out tracks, and the whole thing kind of blends together, which is often the case with the style. Maybe it’s just me, but I couldn’t name more than three Cattle Decapitation albums, never mind songs [yeah, that’s just you – Da Ed], and those guys are a triumph of the genre. This is probably the only thing keeping it from being a truly historic album, besides just one of the best in the year so far. If you’re an Exhumed fan already, you may disagree. If you aren’t, you probably will be after listening. Either way, put the CD in to your player of choice, turn up your speakers or headphones as loud as they’ll go without inflicting permanent hearing damage, and be prepared to be slowly eviscerated.
With a dull prison shiv.