Fetid Zombie
Transmutations

Transcending Obscurity Records and Fetid Zombie are a perfect combo. This is full length #7 for Mark Riddick and this death dealing project, but if you were to count splits and EPs, he might have as many releases as Johnny Sins (ba dum tiss). As a casual fan of the project, I was more than ecstatic to see it coming out on my favorite current label, so I had to call this one ahead of time.

Quick side note: I ordered the Decade of Death compilation from Fetid Zombie not long before grabbing this review. Not only does it come with a book of illustrations by Mark Riddick himself, but he threw in so many postcards, stickers, and buttons that the package looked like it was about to burst. Oh, and if you didn’t know who Mark Riddick is, I’m sure you’ve seen his art adorning covers for a multitude of bands, but we’re here to talk about his music.

As far as the music is concerned, let me just say that this is still metal of the deathly variety, but man is it not going to be what you expected. It sure wasn’t for me. There were many times listening where I questioned if I was still listening to the same album. So, with that in mind, let’s talk about it.

Sure, the first track is somewhat “standard,” but certainly not your boring, knowing exactly what you’ll get standard. It’s called “Chrysopoeia,” and it’s definitely death metal, but carries a very heavy traditional/NWOBHM vibe through its 9-minute plus runtime. This would be a good time to mention Ralf Hauber from Heads for the Dead (a recent favorite of mine) and Chris Monroy of Skeletal Remains provide guest vocals throughout the album, although I couldn’t tell you on which tracks.

What I can tell you about guest vocalists is that Clare Webster of Yylva appears on track 4, “Dreamless Sleep Awaits.” Why do I know this? Well, unless some of the dudes mentioned above have some very ethereal, female-sounding clean vocals in them, I’d say it’s a pretty solid bet. Speaking of, when listening to this track for the first time, it’s definitely one of the moments I mentioned earlier when I actually had to stop what I was doing, then check to see if I was still listening to the new Fetid Zombie. These vocals, however, do not last much longer than a minute before the death metal vocals kick in again to remind you that you’re actually listening to a metal album. This is a pretty killer track, and despite, or maybe because of the curveball with the vocals, it stands out as the best track.

 

The final track, “Breath of Thanatos,” could almost work as a companion piece to the previously mentioned “Dreamless Sleep Awaits.” Those ethereal female vocals are at the beginning of the track, and do a fine job building the atmosphere. I question the motivation of book ending the album with its two longest tracks, this one being over 8 minutes again, but it’s a minor complaint considering the entire length of the album is 36 minutes, which is just about perfect for death metal. While this track does share similarities with the others, of course, the traditional heavy metal vibes are strong, and the crisp production stands out. Great guitars at the front, along with Ralf’s voice, make this track jump from the speakers. It’s a great way to end the album.

If you went into this album thinking you knew what you were getting, well, you’d be wrong, friend. Mark and Fetid Zombie have cranked out a nice mid-year gem you’d be a fool to miss. Yes, there are clean vocals, so if you don’t like that in your death metal, look elsewhere. You’ll be sorry for passing on it, though. I can’t wait to get my hands on another one of those beautifully crafted coffin boxes from my friends at Transcending Obscurity. The only question is; Do I buy a hoodie or a long sleeve? Also, which one?!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
July 9th, 2021

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