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(Relapse; US: 6 Aug 2013; UK: 12 Aug 2013)

There was a time about five years ago when I woke up one morning and said to myself, “You know what? I am not sure I really need to listen to modern death metal anymore. And come to think of it, hyper-technical death metal is more of a sport than an art form, and it gets tedious within about five minutes”. These are the things I think about early in the morning. The melancholy and crushingly brutal fact of the matter is that there is a lot of boring, unimaginative death metal out there. Exhumed’s ineffable new album Necrocracy is neither boring nor unimaginative however, and I will be listening to it for quite some time to come. Necrocracy is fun to listen to! It hearkens back to the early days of death metal when thrash was still a major influence and brutality had not yet eclipsed all other attributes in the sub-genre’s list of aspirations. Necrocracy is playful, while also feeling legitimately demented.

Exhumed make you want to want to get in your crappy, broken down car with the rearview mirrors duct taped on, and drive all night back to the town where you went to high school. Once you are there you will want to flush out some skeezy, disaffected local teenagers and spend the remainder of the day drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon with them and jumping off your parents’ roof into an old, far-too shallow kiddie pool that you found. Will ankles be broken? Obviously. Will the police eventually become involved? I think that is probably inevitable. But you will not have much to say in the matter, because that is what happens when you listen to killer, thrash-infused death metal like Exhumed.

Production wise, Necrocracy sounds neat and tidy without sounding too crisp or sterile. You can hear everything, but it does not give you that “lost in the Target Superstore” feel of so much overly-produced modern death metal. The vocals on Necrocracy offer a very satisfying back-and-forth between a higher, thrashier voice and a lower death growling voice. By extreme metal standards, both the higher and the lower vocals are fairly comprehensible without seeming like they are trying too hard to be decipherable. Thematically, these tracks appear to mainly concern death, dying, and horror, although I do not have a lyric sheet at my disposal. Mercifully, the percussion does not bore the snot out of you with incessant blast beats, finding just the right balance between intensity and nuance. But as with any high quality metal, the proof is in the guitars. There are foul, steaming buckets filled with catchy riffs throughout Necrocracy, and all of them serve the best interests of the song. Give mid-album track “Dysmorphic” a listen and you will see what I mean.

Will Necrocracy win over anyone who previously did not enjoy extreme metal? Probably not, but death metal has never pretended to be for everyone. Is Necrocracy strikingly original? No, but there is nothing wrong with working a defined genre better than just about anyone else out there. I saw Exhumed twice on their last touring cycle, and on both occasions a guy came out mid-set dressed as Leather Face from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and chased the band around with a real chainsaw! If that does not sound like fun to you, then I just don’t know what to say, because it was. Exhumed are a fun band. Necrocracy is a fun record. Listen to it, ye modern technical death metal nerds, and despair!


Benjamin Hedge Olson is a writer, ethnographer, scholar, and teacher based in Greensboro, North Carolina. He holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and an MA in Popular Culture from Bowling Green State University. Dr. Olson is currently an Instructor in Cultural Studies at American InterContinental University. You can contact him at

Tagged as: death metal | exhumed | metal
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