Review Summary: Everything you (n)ever wanted to know about a completely sane, cannibalistic, necro-sodomizing serial killer, presented in happy death/grind form.
Macabre is an aging underground band, whose styles are mainly rooted in death and grind, but play much more than that, often using traditional and folk melodies to spice up their songs. They pride themselves on "Murder Metal", a self dubbed title for their music.
Their line-up has never changed, and to this day remains:
Corporate Death: Guitar, Vocals
Nefarious: Bass Guitar, Vocals
Dennis the Menace: Drums
Before we proceed, a history lesson is due.
Jeffrey Dahmer, which the album is named after, was born in 1960 in West Allis, Wisconsin. He did not have the greatest childhood, and was known to play with road kill, often dissecting the remains. Around 1978, he began a killing streak that would last into 1991; police know he killed at least 17 men and boys, but he probably killed more. He was caught when one of his victims got away in mid-1991 and alerted the police. In his house the police officers found amputated body parts and human remains, and Dahmer was subsequently arrested. He was tried and convicted for 15 of his 17 documented murders, and was sentenced to 15 consecutive life sentences (around 900 some years). While Dahmer was working out in a prison gym in 1994, Christopher Scarver viciously beat Dahmer and another inmate to with a weight bar. Dahmer died in the ambulance en route to the hospital.
Serial killers are an enigma in our society; we do not understand them, and if we can, we keep them as far away from other people as possible. So it goes without saying that singing about them will raise flags for many people. As a band, Macabre is most probably quite aware of this, and this reviewer is willing to bet money that the band members couldn't care less. Dahmer is a clear example of this. The entire album is about the aforementioned Jeffrey Dahmer, and is more or less a 26 song chronological time-line of his short, disturbing life.
Much of the material is transcribed directly from his life, but as a band, Macabre likes to take their material to the next level, and in the vein of Cannibal Corpse
, often try to add an element of morbid humor to their music. Do not be mistaken though: they are humorous in a much different way than CC. To give you a good idea of this, track 10, Jeffrey Dahmer and the Chocolate Factory
, is basically a metal rendition of the Oompa Loompa song, down to the flute at the start. The reason this song is humorous, and not just a cheap rip off, is that while the vocalists are indeed singing the Oompa Loompa tune, vocals such as the following are sung instead:
What would you bet Jeffrey guzzled down meat; eating a bunch of the fellows he'd meet.
Insert Oompa Loompas, and you get the basic idea. There are more examples of this on the album (not of the Oompa Loompas, but of strange humor), however, I'll let you find them for yourselves. Needless to say, many of the lyrics on this album should be interpreted in a Tongue-in-Cheek manner.
One of the most unmistakable features of this band is most certainly the vocals. This reviewer is not sure which vocalist does which kind of vocals, but they are very easily distinguishable from each other. Songs like Into the Toilet With You
are sung in an extremely disturbing, high-pitched demonic falsetto. What's different about this tone is that there is an unsettling raspy element to it; imagine a wraith (ghost) singing, and you've got the gist of it. The vocals seamlessly transition from high pitched wail to the other more prevalent singing style on this album, a raspy low pitched yell. These are the most prominent vocals on the album, and are used to sing the faster, grindy-er parts. However, this is not the extent of the vocals on the albums. Death grunts are to be found all over the album, such as on the first track, Dog Guts
. Clean singing is also used, such as on the song Baptized
. However, there is a evident problem with the vocals: they are too powerful, and they often detract from the instruments. Even though this is basically a biography of a serial killer in death metal form, a key part of music is balancing the vocals and the instruments. Unfortunately, often with this album you end up remembering the grisly lyrics, and not the instruments. This brings up another point; although the lyrics are fantastic, they are largely uncreative since they are transcribed directly from Dahmer's life. They frequently come back to sodomy, murder, cannibalism, and Necrophilia. Whilst this is fine for your average repeat of a death album (I'm looking at YOU Cannibal Corpse), this is anything but an average death release. There are times when you find yourself wishing that sometimes they had been a little more creative with the lyrics. On the whole, however, the vocals are the highlight of the album.
The technicality of this album is, this reviewer would have to say, above average for a death/grind album. The riffs tear at you with ferocious intensity on the grind oriented songs, such as Dog Guts
, and shatter you with their brutality on the more death oriented songs, such as Hitchhiker
. There are also guitar lines reminiscent of Doom, Technical Death, and Avant-garde metal. However, because the album is so vocally based, many of the guitar lines become forgotten amongst the disturbing lyrics. This is not to say that the guitar lines are not fantastic, however. When the lyrics are not running along, singing about sodomy, murder, and what not, the instruments are wonderful; just what you could ask for from this kind of band. The bass guitar, unlike many death releases, can be heard
plowing along muddily with the guitars most of the time. However, on songs like Jeffrey Dahmer and the Chocolate Factory
, the bassist gets time all to himself (and he nails the Oompa Loompa tune, I might add). The drums keep the entire album going, and standout more than the guitars themselves. The drummer has a lot of interesting fills, but unfortunately, the drums suffer from the same problem that the guitars do: the vocals distract from the technicality.
Overall, this reviewer would give this a 3.5 for great technicality, but overpowering vocals. The theme, I might add, whilst particularly morbid, is fantastic for this release, and the vocals fit said theme perfectly. I recommend this to ANY fan of grind or death, or a fan of questionably interesting lyrics.