Exhumed & Gruesome – Twisted Horror Split E.P. (Relapse Records)

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If further proof were needed that some things just get better with age, then Exhumed would be a great example of that. They’ve been carrying the rotting cadaver of old school death metal on their shoulders since 1991 and when they hit their stride, there’s not many that do it better. They are joined on this split E.P by guitarist Matt Harvey’s Chuck Schuldiner tribute outfit Gruesome and by tribute outfit, I don’t mean they bang out a couple of Death covers for good measure. It goes way deeper than that. Gruesome formed when Harvey served as front man for the Death For All Tour along with drummer Gus Rios and former Death members including drummer Sean Reinart. Harvey and Rios thought it would be a good idea to pay homage to Death by writing songs in the style of the death metal legends and before you know it, they had an album’s worth of material and Gruesome was born.

Which brings us to the Twisted Horror E.P. Exhumed kick it off and quickly lay down the gauntlet with the title track, which really pummels you with some breakneck old school death metal. Buried To Die blurs the line between death metal and grindcore and is perhaps the most ferocious of Exhumed’s offerings on the E.P. The plug is pulled on Exhumed with Dead, Deader, Deadest ensuring they sign off with typical brutality. So it’s over to Gruesome and now that you know the back story, you know exactly what to expect as A Mind Decayed kicks in. It’s old school technical death metal which sounds like it could nestle quite nicely on the Death classic Leprosy , while Led Into The Dark definitely has  a Scream Bloody Gore vibe to it which upon listening to, makes you realise what a loss to heavy music Chuck Schuldiner really was. It’s not Death, it couldn’t be without Chuck, but it’s a close as you can possibly get.

They’ve always been the masters of heavy music and Relapse Records have put together another great package here. For anybody craving some proper old school death metal then you owe it to yourself to check out the Twisted Horror E.P and reminisce about a time when death metal was done properly. The sheer brutality of it all will definitely cave your head in, but that my friends, is a good thing.… Chris Andrews

Writing about music is never easy as you use the power of words to explain sound. Obviously, the words melodic and brutal are commonly, and overly, used in metal. Repulsive; as a standard of quality not so much.Well not with a positive connotation anyway. However, Exhumed wear this badge proudly on their sleeves. Three new songs, throwing grind, death and hardcore together make for an amazing ride.

Gruesome, delivering two new songs, were created as a sort of tribute to Death’s early years. The band, that is, and not necessarily the genre or the debt that all men pay. A Mind Decayed and Led Into The Dark stay true to original influence. The vocals are more Death fixated than before…. the genre that is, and not the band. It’s confusing, I know, but the quality of the five songs isn’t, as they are incredible. And regardless of influences or labels, Twisted Horror is about as metal as metal gets… Martijn Welzen

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