"All Guts, No Glory"

 by Thor

There are few performers, whether they are actors, comedians, magicians, or musicians, that have such gravitas that their respective forms, styles, and genres are merely descriptions of what they perform rather than definitions of what they perform.  You know them when you see them.  Think about the screen presence of a Marlon Brando or a Jack Nicholson, or the mastery of the stage by Richard Pryor and George Carlin.  These icons didn’t tailor their acts to fit beneath the categorical umbrella of an existing genre or style, but rather they embody genres and styles that others aspire to emulate.

Listing to the new album “All Guts, No Glory” by Exhumed, it strikes me that this band is exactly this type of aforementioned artistic singularity.  The album is eleven tracks old school death grind played with the same type of confidence that Alexander Graham Bell had when dialing a telephone.  Exhumed has peers such as Carcass, but those peers share a similar genre-defining verisimilitude and are extraordinarily few and far between.  To cut to the chase: “All Guts, No Glory” absolutely rips.

Musically, there’re a few tools these guys brought with them from the dark ages that they wield with lethal skill and efficiency.  There are punked out D-beat skank parts, broken up by furious grind passages and sinisterly melodic thrash parts, and this melodic flavor is used wisely as I’m never compelled to don a suit of armor and ride around on horseback looking for a fair maiden to save.  The songs remain aggressive and twisted, never losing any edge or power.  The guitar solos are various and dynamic while the duel-vocal assault, old-school gutturals and theatric, malicious shrieking, is integrated into these compositions to evil perfection.
The production is top notch as the sound quality is on par with that of mainstream recordings.  The clarity, dynamic range, and volume do not lack.  However, the music doesn’t sound mechanical, but rather it’s organic – a quality that has as much to do with the outstanding playing and songwriting as it does the stellar production.

It hasn’t been a smooth ride for Exhumed.  The band has more ex-members than the Cub Scouts do.  The one constant has been guitarist, vocalist, and founding member Matt Harvey who’s assembled the most refined version of Exhumed yet, allowing him to realize his musical vision better than ever before.  This gory opus couldn’t be executed by any other band.  It would come off as pretentious and over the top, but here it’s meted out with the highest level of integrity and confidence by a band merely doing what it does and enjoying it.  To put it another way, if you saw me in the park and I was pretending to be a gorilla you may point and laugh, but if you saw a gorilla in the park and pointed and laughed, chances are you’d end up an arm short of a pair and Kong would have a new bloody toy.

“All Guts, No Glory” harkens back to a time when death metal was fun and exciting rather than sterile and predictable.  This album would function well as the sound track to the rural Wisconsin road trips my friends and I took almost daily back in the early 1990’s when we’d drive west out of the city, blasting music by bands like Obituary and Morbid Angel, freaking out on the spooky autumn scenery and wishing it would stay like that forever.