EXHUMED/GRUESOME – Twisted Horror
Matt Harvey is a latter-day death metal legend, heading up both Exhumed and Gruesome, two of the leading lights of the modern genre. Exhumed exemplify goregrind akin to classic Carcass, and have been knocking about since 1990 (albeit with a break from 2005 until their triumphant return in 2010) with a highlight being their "All Guts, No Glory" opus from 2011. Gruesome, on the other hand, is all-out fanboy worship of mid-era Death and proud of it – their output over the past six years has been truly enjoyable and dedicated to the cause. So, why the hell not do a split with both of Harvey’s bands, highlighting their strengths?
At 19 minutes, "Twisted Horror" gives us three tunes from Exhumed and two from Gruesome, and it hits hard, fast, and gives no quarter. It’s well-produced and gets more addictive with each listen – even as a fan of both bands, I found that this small showcase exemplifies all the best points of both acts, and the songs are mean, mean bastards.
"Rot Your Brain" is the first of the Exhumed line-up, a song that could have comfortably been on any album in the later Carcass catalogue. It’s filled to the brim with riffs, blasts, chewy melodies, intricate leads, and a catchy chorus that spits venom. "Buried To Die" hits the goregrind button and takes no prisoners with its blinding speed and furious aggression, relenting only for a luminous guitar solo. Of all three Exhumed songs on here, the third and final shows off the best of all their angles – "Dead, Deader, Deadest" pulls in the speed, the riffs, the grind, the sublime leads, and downright pounding death metal that the band are known for and spews out one of their best tracks ever. So damn good.
I would have liked more than two Gruesome tracks as I do enjoy them so, but luckily the two on offer are prime fodder. "A Mind Decayed" continues the Death legacy with ease, packed to the rafters with an oppressive, tight barrage of riffs that just doesn’t give up. "Led Into The Dark" relies more on a mid-paced bludgeoning that wouldn’t be out of place on the classic "Spiritual Healing" – it knows how to off-play dynamics to showcase the talents of the players and finishes the album off on a high note.
I’m not a big fan of splits generally as I find them too short to be of worth and often lacking personality, but "Twisted Horror" is a delight from beginning to end. Both bands never fail to entertain and find fresh areas to unearth in their respective fields, and these songs show that they are in the prime of their careers, with seemingly a lot more to offer in the future. Death metal is very much alive and well in 2020, and "Twisted Horror" is a gem in that filthy crown.