“Death Revenge”

By El Chief

Concept albums are the worst. Okay, some are actually pretty good, like "Tommy" from The Who, and I'll even admit to liking "Operation: Mindcrime" from Queensryche back in the day. But, for the most part, they succumb to pretension. Such is the case from San Jose, Calif., gore metal masters Exhumed, who are back for their sixth studio effort in "Death Revenge." That sucks, because most of the album is actually pretty decent. 

However, I just can't get past the misstep of having three instrumentals grind all momentum to a halt. To be fair, I could forgive the opener, "Death Overture," if it was only a minute long. However, more than two minutes of cheesy faux-symphony work makes you bang your head for the wrong reason. Producer Jarrett Prichard (Goatwhore, Gruesome) should've led with the second track, "Defenders of the Grave." A series of nifty guitar fills gets the blood pumping and you can feel the circle pit starting to flow. The band kicks into light speed from there, telling the story of a pair of early nineteenth century grave robbers/serial killers from Scotland.(Everybody's favorite resurrection men, Burke & Hate!--Dr. Mality) When a shrieking bloody gurgle sounds halfway through the appropriately named track "Dead End," I feel like I'm right there, watching the victim's blood pour into the scuppers. All's good, right? 

Sadly, no, because the production team forces you to keep hitting the skip button to get past two more synth-laden instrumentals. Maybe these moments wouldn't be so bad if this was Opeth performing a follow-up to Blackwater Park, but there's no point in having a keyboard create atmosphere when Exhumed are capable of creating fear and mayhem without resorting to cheap tricks.

So, go ahead and cue up the album on whatever device you prefer, because three-fourths of Death Revenge features the pulse-pounding shredders you've come to expect from Exhumed. Just be prepared to cut out the show-stopping fillers. Better yet, create a playlist that exorcises them altogether.