HORROR by Exhumed
Review by: The Cardio Killer
Monday is the cruelest day, and my Monday morning runs are easily the runs that demand the most of me mentally. I’m at a point in my running career where all the pre-workout boosts and mid-way endorphins in the world won’t get me to my goals without the help of some solid-ass riff sickness. And in my first review for the homies at Death Comes Lifting, I was fortunate, since Exhumed did what they always do: they fucking deliver. Let’s get up to speed. Since returning to active-duty status with 2011’s All Guts, No Glory, Exhumed have been cranking out reliably high quality material. Their last album, Death Revenge, saw founder Matt Harvey and the boys branching out into pretty bold territory, crafting a full-on death metal musical complete with different band members playing different characters, as well as fleshed-out symphonic accompaniments and spoken-word interludes. Now, two years later, Exhumed have returned again, following up the expansive vision of Death Revenge with Horror, a stripped-back, urgent affair that pays homage to Exhumed’s greatest and most under-credited influence: themselves.
While Death Revenge alternated between the melody of Anatomy Is Destiny and the slickness of Necrocracy, Horror is defined by the immediacy of Exhumed’s goregrind roots. Tracks like “Ravenous Cadavers” and “Rabid” recall the directness of their debut Gore Metal, except they’re powered by the kind of catchy, streamlined riffs that can only be written by dudes who’ve been crafting and listening to quality death metal for the better part of three decades. Harvey and the boys are putting on a masterclass in classic death and grind here, with tracks like “The Red Death” laying churning thrash licks over punky d-beat like Discharge covering Kill ‘Em All tunes. There’s so much punch and muscle on the album, too; “Slaughter Maniac” and “Playing With Fear” are as meaty as anything the band’s ever delivered, and the count-in and gurgling shriek that open “Unsound” make for the kind of jump-start that’s exactly what I want from an upbeat death record… and for the first track on a cardio playlist. In its own right as a death metal release, Horror comes up aces. Let’s see how it performs in motion.
With Horror in my earbuds, I did a straight hour on my Monday morning run. This album is super short—around 27 minutes—so I actually got to listen to it all the way through twice, and that ended up being pretty productive for me. I need a good boost to get me started and to sustain me until I hit my stride, and when I run for an hour or more, I typically need another jolt around the halfway point; “Unsound” came through like a champion at both those times. In addition to the album being short on the whole, it’s also made up of short songs; across 27 minutes, you’ve got a whole 15 tracks. As short as most of them are, however, these songs—even “Dead Meat” at 35 seconds, and “Shattered Sanity” at a minute-fifteen—all feel fully-developed. I never felt like I was getting into the groove only to be let down by a premature ending. Throughout the run, I found myself getting caught up again and again by Horror’s sheer entertaining catchiness. At the end of each song, I’d get a beat to breathe before doing it all over again.
I’ve seen chatter online hailing this record as a comeback, and I don’t really agree with that. To call it a comeback is a disservice to Exhumed and to the record itself; they never lost their stride, and there are no wrongs for Horror to right. Having said that, the album isn’t revelatory either… but that’s not the point. Horror is the sound of a band pulling back from the seriousness that defined their last couple of LPs and reconnecting with the tongue-in-chewed-off-cheek humor of their youth by playing classic, grindy death metal riffs, gurgling and screaming about blood and guts, and having a hell of a fun time doing it.
Run stats: 1 hour, 5.35 miles
Verdict: Pop it in and run for your life.