Exhumed and Gruesome have teamed up to release a five-track split in their cleverly titled EP, Twisted Horror. This is a follow up to Gruesome’s Twisted Prayers, and Exhumed’s Horror. This is a natural pairing, as the bands share a common member in Matt Harvey, who does double duty as the bands’ vocalist and guitarist.
Exhumed is a deathgrind band that has been around since the early 90s and has eight studio albums and a dozen or more splits and EPs out there. Harvey formed Gruesome about five years ago in a wonderful effort to essentially create a Death tribute band. Gruesome’s albums scratch the Leprosy and Scream Bloody Gore itch you’ve had since Saint Chuck passed away. These are two fantastic bands that work well in a split format release.
The EP starts out with Exhumed’s “Rot Your Brain.” My first reaction was that the mix and tone sound excellent. The guitars roar with power and the entire band sounds clear. The vocals, even when gurgled, are clearly audible and, dare I say, decipherable. In a live setting, you will be able to raise your fist and chant “Rot Your Brain!” along with the whole crowd. Multiple guitar solos garnish the chainsaw rhythm section, each melodic and tasteful. This is an excellent song to use for converting metal fans to grind.
Exhumed continues with “Buried to Die,” another high energy grinder. This track echoes the high points of the band’s most recent album, Horror. The reverb-drenched guitar solo on this one is exciting and memorable. The chorus repeats over and over to a pummeling conclusion, leading me to conclude that this is yet another song begging for time on a live set.
The third Exhumed track, “Dead, Deader, Deadest,” is my pick of the litter. A nasty guitar solo leads off the song for about 12 seconds, after which Exhumed commits battery for three straight minutes. The two guitar solos in the middle section are glorious and make bare the band’s heavy metal influences. This song made me want to relive the last Exhumed show I went to, and pine away for the days when live shows will be a thing again. All three Exhumed songs here would be great to see in that environment.
“A Mind Decayed” is Gruesome’s opening salvo on the EP. A lone guitar chugs away in the left channel, joined by the entire rhythm section in some cool syncopated hits that build up the mood nicely. The spirit of Death oozes forth in this filthy track, as is this band’s calling card. Matt’s vocals kick in at about the 30-second mark, and he provides a wonderful, muscular Chuck flavor to the proceedings. This is the Gruesome you know and love, no question. The song is littered with the kind of riff and tempo changes that addicted you to this band when you heard Twisted Prayers or Savage Land.
Gruesome’s second track, “Led Into the Dark,” concludes the EP with a heavy banger that is tailor-made for moshing. This song is pummeling from start to finish without suffering dynamically. Gruesome graciously drops into half time on occasion just so that you can be reminded of how awesome it is when things go full throttle. There’s a Kerry King-style guitar solo thrown in there for good measure. I smiled during the entire song’s duration, such was my joy.
Gruesome and Exhumed have released a wonderful EP in Twisted Horror that will excite your unholy appetites and leave you wanting more. Both bands are in top form here, providing listeners with a compelling case for why you should be listening to each of them more often. If this wasn’t clearly labelled as an EP, my only complaint would be that it is too short. These 20 minutes fly by and the songs are good enough to warrant an immediate record flip to repeat the punishment.
A few notes for collectors: Twisted Horror is being pressed on 10” vinyl in five different variants, three of which feature splatter and gory colors that complement the music nicely. There is a black variant for you purists as well. These are all available from Relapse Records’ website and/or each band’s page on Bandcamp.
Favorite Songs: “A Mind Decayed” and “Dead, Deader, Deadest”
Release Date: 6/5/2020
Support Exhumed: Bandcamp
Support Gruesome: Bandcamp
Label: Relapse Records
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