Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bloody Roots: Revisiting Impaled's "Death After Life"

This album originally dropped in 2005, and was something that I bought on release day. At the time I was on a huge gore metal jag, consuming just about anything related to Impaled, Exhumed, or General Surgery. I'd throw in the obvious Carcass reference, but really they should be a given.

While Exhumed's opus "Anatomy is Destiny" streeted two years previous, "Death After Life" was hailed prior to release as a milestone for Impaled, with comparisons drawn to the aforementioned Exhumed album as well as Carcass' seminal "Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious".

While the album definitely holds their record for cleanest packaging, I would have to dispute those claims and point to "Mondo Medicale" as Impaled's seminal, and truly only essential, release. But don't take that to mean that this album is a dud. As much as I prefer their previous platter of splatter, this particular record contains my favorite song of theirs', which I still hold to be the most perfect example of excellent Carcass worship ever recorded, "Dead Shall Dead Remain"... not to be confused with their album of the same title. I think you would be hard pressed to find a better display of manic musicianship, cleanly mixing the ethos of crust along with sheer unfuckwithable death and grind in a perfectly gory setting. The lyrics for it are also some of my favorites for this particular band:

"Our hypothesis carried out on mortal remains
Real-life application tests our conjectures
It seems despite our scientific progress
All we've proven is our abject failures

A foetid stench fills the air
And with a pungent voice declares
Though we prod a cadaver with care
There is no life in there
Altruistic notions aside
And the experiments we've tried
The veracity cannot be denied
There is no cure for those who've die..."

In fact, I think that while musically "Mondo Medicale" reigns supreme, "Death After Life" contains some of the best lyrics that Ross Sewage has ever put to paper. This whole thing is a concept album, basically putting the band in the shoes of doctors a'la Jeffery Combs' Herbert West, attempting to come up with a solution/cure for the dead. Very tongue in cheek, witty, and hysterical while remaining pulpy and bloody as hell.

Now as for the music, Sewage spews bass licks like few other performers, with chunky grooves and a huge bottom end that rollicks along with Raul Varela's bombastic drums which are placed perfectly in the mix (if anything detrimental could be said about "Mondo..." it would be issues with the mixing). Sean McGrath and Jason Kocol share guitar duties, and their playing is exceptionally tight and frantic. The riffs are killer overall, if more often than not less memorable than the preceding record. The glue that holds the whole thing together, is the production of Trey Spruance, currently playing with the Secret Chiefs 3 and formerly with Mr Bungle. The whole sound of the album is reminiscent of the techniques used by bands like Dark Angel on "Darkness Descends" or more recently Southern Lord's Power Trip on their "Manifest Decimation" LP. This disc needs to be played LOUD.

So in answer to how the disc holds up... yeah, it's still great 9 years later. I would argue greater than the follow up "Impaled's Last Gasp", though not up to the standards they set with "Mondo Medicale". Hopefully success with the rerecorded "The Dead Still Dead Remain" will see Impaled putting out new material, as they are if not anything else an ever reliable act in the small gore metal crowd, alongside reigning greats Exhumed and General Surgery. Currently the disc can be had for as little as three bones plus shipping from 3rd party sellers on Amazon, and for that I'd say it's easily well worth it!

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