by Dr. Abner Mality

Research reveals that Locusta of Gaul was the first recorded serial killer. Living in the first century A.D., she was a notorious poisoner who even managed to kill the Emperor Claudius, amongst many others. Although protected from execution by Nero, she was finally hung when Nero committed suicide.

Nice lady! Perfect namesake for this technical death metal band hailing from Columbus, Ohio. These guys were totally unknown to me before I received this disk, but they are quite adept at what they do. They favor a long-winded style of death metal with many tempo changes and plenty of melodic solos. They dwell in that sweet spot between melodic death metal and insane shredding tech-death. The vocals are exceedingly guttural yet still comprehensible, reminding me of somebody else I can't quite put my finger on. I feel their tunes could do with some judicious pruning, yet I can't deny their mastery of this form. The first few tracks here are OK but little more. However, once the album moves into the second half, it kicks into high gear with some very strong tunes like "Betrayed by the Sea", the grim and musty "Into the Tomb" and the epic "Locusta", which should satisfy any fan of death metal with class. Surprise track, though, is the killer instrumental "Vlad Tepes"...a real ass-kicker with riffs reminiscent of early Maiden and the NWOBHM.

Some rough spots remain, but quite a bit of potential in Locusta. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they get picked up by Relapse or Prosthetic.