I remember almost exactly when my preoccupation with gore started. I can’t remember how old I was (I do know I was quite young), but I definitely remember the circumstances. I was over at my next door neighbor’s house and they just so happened to have a VHS of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. We must have watched that movie a thousand times. We were completely obsessed with it. I remember running around outside yelling “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!”. I also remember going to the local graveyard and being disappointed to not see even a single flesh-eating ghoul lumbering around.
As I got older, the obsession continued and intensified, ultimately leading me to much more repulsive films, comic books and finally to death metal. As I’ve previously documented, I didn’t care for death metal when I first heard it. But then one day, something clicked. I realized that death metal was the musical equivalent of the all the horror movies and comics I’d freaked out over in my youth, and after that there was no turning back.
Why am I bringing this up? Because no death metal band today exudes those putrid ethos that remind me of the fun of my gore-drenched upbringing more than Exhumed. After a self-imposed eight year silence between full lengths (six if you count the all-covers Garbage Daze Re-Regurgitated) the band is back with All Guts, No Glory, a viciously executed slab of sickness that finds the California quartet doing what they do best; gore, gore and more gore. By backing off the musical and conceptual complexity of 2003’s Anatomy is Destiny in favor of a more refined and catchy approach, they have crafted what is easily their finest album to date.
Of course, a host of bands with more disgusting cover art and more offensive album/song titles have sprung up in Exhumed’s absence, but there is one very important thing separating them from the average Sevared Records band (for instance), and quite frankly, that thing is talent. Exhumed knows how to write brutal yet classy songs that will stick in your head like a surgical saw to the cerebral cortex, the metallic equivalent of a Romero or Fulci film, making the competition look like the direct-to-DVD hacks of death metal.
Taking elements of death metal, grindcore and thrash and tossing them in a vat of musical quicklime, Exhumed goes straight for the jugular with cuts like “As Hammer to Anvil” “Through Cadaver Eyes” and “Necrotized”. It’s frightfully awesome stuff, steeped in pitch-black black humor and backed up with some serious chops. Speaking of chops, the guitar-work of Matt Harvey and Wes Caley (ex-Fatalist, Uphill Battle) is the album’s highlight, a grisly mixture of eviscerating razor-riffage and frenzied soloing that puts the guts in All Guts, No Glory. Exhumed’s rhythm section are no slouches either and as expected, the playing of bassist Leon del Muerte and drummer Danny Walker (also of Intronaut) is as tight as a canister of 2-4-5 Trioxin, infusing the songs with the necessary speed and precision.
As crushing and brutal as All Guts, No Glory is, there is also an infectious sense of fun that permeates the recording. It gives me the same feelings I felt watching that first zombie chase Judith O’Dea through the cemetery, that feeling of adrenaline and giddiness and terror all rolled into one. The zombified band photo gracing the cover is telling; I have a hunch that Exhumed are a group of guys that love this shit as much as I do. So, if you’re like me and looking for the perfect soundtrack to your gore obsession, look no further, because Exhumed are back from the dead and ready to party.