Review Summary: Fearless undead Machines is undoubtedly one of Deceased's career-defining albums, thanks in part to the solid line-up at the time of the album's release, as well as a genuine willingness to progress from the band's earlier years.
By 1991 Deceased had created and solidified the perfect line-up, and this is more than evident on the band's third album, Fearless undead Machines
. As the title suggests, this album is solely focused on the undead, particularly zombies, and though such a subject has been seemingly used to death by many bands within the extreme metal circuit, Fearless undead Machines really takes the subject seriously, so seriously in fact that at least half of the album's songs are some of the most creative and ambitious songs to be found within death metal itself.
Opening with an excerpt taken from one of George A. Romero's zombie-based films (presumably, for the films from the man's “Living Dead” trilogy are arguably the most genre-defining of them all), blistering and near perfect opener “The silent Creature” is deadly, eerie and evil in all the right ways. Guitars may be the focal point here but it's really the enigmatic rhythm section that pulls no punches in creating solid instrumentation and ambitious musicianship. The complex nature of each and every riff seems to take its time in amounting to an almost epic finale, but this is in no way a barrier of the song's general progress. Comparing this to the band's first album seems very easy, sure, but the same sort of evil-sounding atmosphere is still here in spades. Naturally, “The silent Creature” is one of a handful of songs which makes Fearless undead Machines
so excellent, and you can feel this through the visceral nature of the enigmatic title track and “Mysterious Research”, both of which explode immediately from beginning to end.
The band also go through frequent bouts of musical experimentation in Fearless undead Machines
, although the core style is still very much rooted in death metal. The two short interludes which give the listener a nice albeit eerie breather from “The silent Creature” and the title track for example are led for the most part by soothing acoustic guitars and a narrative performance by King Fowley. Fowley on these tracks sounds every bit as haunting as Vincent Price in his heyday, and together with eerie atmosphere and well-executed musicianship simply uses his talents to the full extent. There's also a great sense of melody in various riffs on songs such as “Mysterious Research” and “Night of the Deceased”. This naturally shows the band's more experimental side and proves that they don't just stick to ear-battering aggression, for the melodic licks of Mike Smith's and Mark Adams' guitar work works to the band's advantage each and every time.
The one thing which not everyone will be able to get into is Fowley's vocal style. For some, his vocals are as grim and as eerily tasteful as the listener would expect, whereas for others they could simply prove weak compared to the excellence of the instrumentation. This isn't necessarily a problem when reflecting on the album's overall impression, so much as a slight annoyance for those who prefer the more guttural style. Two songs towards the end prove unfortunately weaker than the rest, though not by much. “Beyond Science” seems to attempt a more back-to-basics approach which has much more in common with the band's earlier material than it does with the longer songs on Fearless undead Machines
and “The Psychic” is simply too lenient for its own good, but with such a mammoth of a closing song in “Destiny”, one can safely forget those two filler-based tracks.
For those who wonder where the perfect starting point is for Deceased, Fearless undead Machines
is definitely one of the first albums you should try, for it is at best a career-defining moment and a concrete sound which would be worked on even more for future releases such as As the Weird travel on
and Supernatural Addiction
. If you like your death metal ambitious, eerie and grim and don't mind lengthy songs, this album is definitely for you.