Review Summary: A grim first album for Deceased, but certainly an enjoyable one too.
Although they now tend to be lumped with other cult status death metal groups, Deceased predate the likes of Suffocation and Cryptopsy by a few years or so. Having a career that dates back to 1984 (a mere year after the legendary Death formed), Deceased have seemingly been around for quite a long time, though long forgotten by the mass media as the first group to sign up to long-running label Relapse Records. Though the band's earlier years were rooted more or less in thrash metal and the early stages of death metal, Deceased have become heralded as a successful cult band thanks to ambitious albums such as Fearless undead Machines
and As the Weird travel on
It is a genuine shame then, that the band's first album, grimly entitled Luck of the Corpse
and featuring a front cover which takes its image from the 1963 film Black Sabbath
, isn't as widely recognized by salivating fans of death metal as it should. As the front cover and song titles would have you believe, Deceased on this album come across as a band completely obsessed with death. Sure, that's what death metal was originally all about, but you only have to listen to the grim nature of the recording and the somewhat muddied production to understand just why the band chose to call themselves Deceased.
Instrumentally, if you can ignore the shoddy production issues which plague this album, it proves to be very solid and consistent indeed. The vocal delivery is guttural and at times demonic ("Haunted Cerebellum" itself wouldn't sound out of place in The Exorcist
), the guitar work has a lot of interesting twists and turns, and the drum work, shared also by long-running vocalist King Fowley, explodes and batters its way through every song. The guitar work here is the focal point of the band's musical output overall, explosive songs such as “Futuristic Doom”, “Psychedelic Warriors” and the very well written “Birth by Radiation” made all the more terrifying thanks to those sometimes beautifully executed solos and crunchy riffs. Together with the rumbling bass, the instrument itself having one or two brief solos on “Futuristic Doom” and “Feasting on Skulls” and machine-like drum rhythms, it all makes for quite a solid rhythm section which for the most part doesn't let up.
That said, there are one or two songs where the band are clearly trying to progress beyond the basic conventions of thrash and death metal, yet unfortunately fail because of a somewhat directionless sound. Also because of the usual production issues, songs such as the mundane “Decrepit Coma” and “Feasting on Skulls”, you can never really hear how much effort is going into the instrumentation, and it all sounds a bit forced or rushed, especially when you know the band can stretch three minutes into five minutes by taking their time and craftig an ambitious opus.
However, it's all still solid enough for fans of early death metal to enjoy, and you can't argue against the superb likes of “Haunted Cerebellum” and enigmatic Grindcore-esque closer “Gutwrench”, and for the most part, Deceased sound like a band already prepared to take on music of a more complex fashion, something that would take control of the group's musical direction on successive albums. Put simply, Deceased's first album sets out to do the same thing any other band within the same sub-genre probably wanted to do: Have fun by playing solid death metal. If you're interested in how Deceased sounded in their earlier days, give this a listen.