Red is the Color of Ripping Death

Ahhhhhhhhhhh Nunslaughter…

We’re creeping up here on 35 years of relentless, blasphemous chaos from the band now – and everything about a career as illustrious and heralded as theirs, has been as far removed from conventional as you can possibly imagine. This is, after, only the band’s 5th full-length studio release in all that time, making this quite the rare occasion! Break out that special vintage of blood and let’s get wild!

Of course, the legendary Don of the Dead is still steering the ship, but this is the first full length with the current lineup of him, guitarist Tormentor (Noah Buchanan of Solipsist), drummer Wrath (Joe Lowrie) and bassist Detonate who’ve all been together for the last couple years, including two split-releases and an EP released just this year, Black Death Phantom – which was actually just a recorded rehearsal with the at-the-time newly-recruited Detonate. That’s the kind of intimate access you get from this band that you just don’t find often in the world of metal, and has created the cult following that I’m sure the band has deliberately been cultivating for nearly 3 and a half decades. ANYWAY, point is that this is probably the first real taste of what this band can be with this lineup, and the bottom line is this: Nunslaughter is still very good at being Nunslaughter. Huzzah!

If longtime fans are gonna find a bone to pick with Red is the Color, it’s likely to be with how GOOD it sounds. Those used to the more raw and frantic energy of their countless live albums and less formal recordings certainly aren’t going to find that here. That said, while it can sometimes be hard to capture that live energy on a recording, this thing still rips – 14 tracks with only two breaking the 3-minute mark, filled with the kind of up-tempo, punk-fueled death metal riffs you’ve come to know and love from these heathens. Right off the bat, burners “Murmer” and “Broken and Alone” explode through the gates with blistering hellfire energy, before “To a Whore” breaks in and slaps with a slightly more measured, but no less in-your face attack. Similarly, “The Tempress” and closer “Below the Cloven Hoof” keep up the paces and make sure listeners leave the album with a hell of a bangover.

The band prove they’re also still capable of heftier, more plodding bruisers, too. “Banished” and “Black Cat Hanging” may well be two of the bands most purely Death metal songs to date, while “Casket Lid Creaks” seems downright sludgy by comparison to the band’s back catalog. But the album’s biggest highlights come from two songs that I do thing belong amongst the bands’ best. Title track “Red is the Color of Ripping Death” seems much longer than it really is, given everything they’ve packed into it’s moderate 3 minutes and 34 seconds. After a slow intro builds the anticipation, the band picks up the pace and carries you through a whirlwind midsection, including a great, earworm chorus and some driving, double-bass backed rumbles, before bringing things to a close with an absolute storm of furious guitars, and an excellent vocal attack from Don of the Dead. Two tracks later is the REAL treat, though – with candidate for antichristian anthem of the year, “Annihilate the Kingdom of God.” It’s among the band’s finest and most immediately-memorable tracks to date, featuring a fucking killer build-up and breakdown with a vocal interplay between Don and – I assume – guitarist Tormentor leading the heretical charge. It’s one of those songs that you just know is gonna be absolute chaos live – I can tell you that much. Host cities of anywhere they tour should honestly be warned ahead of time.

Listen, Nunslaughter owes us absolutely nothing at this point. No band has made themselves as reliably and readily available as they have over their career, with a creative output few bands could possibly hope to match. So to have them put out an album of this quality after all this time – one that comes in, lays waste to everything and gets out before having any kind of chance to overstay it’s welcome? That’s pretty special. And to do it with the kind of fun that they’re clearly still having (seriously, tell me that isn’t the best metal video you’ve seen in a long-ass time)? Even better. I know that, inevitably, a certain section of people are gonna poo-poo all over this for being “too polished” and “too produced.” But honestly? Screw that. This is an album, and indeed, a band worth celebrating. Long live Nunslaughter!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
August 9th, 2021


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