Review Summary: Exhumed of the Earth is a sprawling beast of a death/doom metal record that never lets up in any way.Exhumed of the Earth
is the sprawling, unrelenting debut album from Australian death / doom metal band Paramaecium. Over its 65 minute runtime, Exhumed of the Earth
alternates between mid-tempo (even up-tempo at times) old school death metal and massive snail-paced doom riffs. Paramaecium’s brand of low and slow metal isn’t particularly technical or overtly melodic. However, it dwells in the spaces between. The dense, organic atmosphere created by the crawl absorbs the listener. Even though the band turns between death and doom styles on a dime, most songs feature lengthy passages where riffs mutate slowly. Besides the pace and heaviness of the record, the other elements that make Paramaecium click are the inhuman ramblings of vocalist/bassist (who contributes a very audible bassline with a few surprising solo moments as well) Andrew Tompkins, and the pace sustaining drumwork of Jayson Sherlock (a tasteful use of massive amounts of double bass). Both of these elements will seem familiar to anyone who has heard Mortification’s Scrolls of the Megilloth
. Sherlock was the resident drummer on that record, and the vocals here are a similar death growl to Mortification frontman Steve Rowe. This record is refreshing compared to recent acts that rely on a slew of instrumentation, synthesizers, or other studio tricks to maintain their overwhelming darkness or heaviness.
The narrative of Exhumed of the Earth
relives the life, death, and message of Jesus Christ. The majority of the tracks present fairly literal accounts of the events, from the miraculous birth (and subsequent wrath of King Herod), to the trial, death, and resurrection. Paramaecium add lyrical touch when necessary, but the album powerfully relives these events almost as if they are a firsthand account. The album begins with a 17 minute epic in two parts: 'The Birth' and 'The Massacre of Innocents'. The first sounds are as serene as the album gets, with light atmosphere and operatic female vocals. However, the peace is demolished by a death march which trudges through the murky depths of the first few verses. The tempo nose-dives into the last portion of 'The Birth', where it gives way to another set of female vocals and adds a melancholy violin to the mix. 'The Massacre' is structured reverse to the 'The Birth'. This time the doom chords are the introduction, and the more groove oriented portions arrive later. What ties such a long song together is commonalities between the segments. The final lyric of both are the same, and the death march riffs that opened the track find their way back into the mix periodically. Throughout the album, the structure of the songs is very tight and easy to follow. Despite the storytelling nature of the narrative, the songs do not wander off during their lengthy runtimes.
If the first track is all-encompassing, the following track (the shortest on the album) 'Injudicial' is the micro chasm. Most of the other tracks on Exhumed of the Earth
share the same contrasts in style, with the occasional melodic element added into the mix for effect (usually making the atmosphere is even more sinister). 'The Killing' is the most straightforward doom track; extremely slow doom at that. However, it has a forlorn flute passage that brings out the devastation of the subject matter. This track is completely about atmosphere. 'Voyage of the Severed' is the most melodic track, and plays its way out on an extended guitar solo. Going back to the narrative of the album, this track is also the biggest deviation. This track brings church politics into the mix that (despite the positive message in the end) throws the narrative off track. Most of the lyrical interpretation that Paramaecium does is well received, but this track could be contentious to some.
As far as most memorable doom ‘chorus’ goes, that can be found in 'Haemorrage of Hatred'. This track uses clean backing vocals to eerie effect, but the refrain of Internal haemorrhage of hatred / Exudation of hatred from within
is the highlight. It is an undeniably brutal way to say something positive. That’s Paramaecium’s take on Exhumed from the Earth
. They are telling an infamous story through the lens of modern metal. There is plenty to say about all of these time stretching tracks, but the finale 'Removed from the Grave' is the all-around best. It’s the first track on the album that features tranquil acoustic guitar picking. However, that is offset by spoken word female vocals that are downright unsettling. When 'Removed from the Grave' gets going, it unleashes some of the most memorable riffs on the album, and when it finally crashes back into the same guitar picking it began with, it is decidedly victorious. The final line of Death has been devoured
puts the narrative in (again) modern metal terms. Even if you don’t pick up many of the lyrics along the way (the vocals are not only ferocious, but at times are coming from multiple directions…which can be very claustrophobic), there are great taglines scattered throughout that the attentive listener can latch onto.
Although the album can be unforgiving musically (not lyrically!), the atmosphere the band is able to create without relying on gimmicks is well worth diving into. Paramaecium knows to pick up the pace before it becomes monotonous, and there is always something exciting around the corner when repetition causes the mind to wander. There is a lot to ponder on Exhumed of the Earth
, though. The band went all out to create the musical landscape they wanted; there is literally no stone unturned.