La Muerte

Well, here it is folks. The moment of this album arriving had me giddier than when my first real girlfriend let me touch her jiggly and moist bits for the first time. This is comeback album that for me, far exceeds the hype of Suffocation, Obituary, Celtic Frost, and whoever else the fuck has decided to make a quick buck of their name.Gorefest is different though. Their first four albums reside in my favorite albums of all time list but they spilt up on a sour note with the god awful Chapter 13 and with the band not on speaking terms. Without turning this review into a retrospective, here we are 8 years later, the band has patched up their differences, Nuclear Blast welcomed them back into the fold, and after according to a Jan C interview I did recently, Gorefest was ready to unleash their most metal album since the seminal False. He wasn’t kidding.

I’ll tell you right away, La Muerte slides in musically right between the styles of False and Erase. It has False’s distinctly European urgent death metal gait for the most part, but contains some of the death ‘n’ roll groove of Erase but without sounding so ‘clean’. Even the artwork is a mix of False and the GF logo from Erase. Tue Madsen’s (where you were for Erase?) mastering gives the album a modern but ultimately Gorefest sound. Jan C’s vocals are his latter era growl, with plenty of “Rooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrr’s” but he is still as distinct as ever while retaining a powerful presence.

Right of the get go, well placed album opener “For The Masses” is the ultimate comeback song if I ever heard one, a gloriously over the top epic “Were Back!” to kick things of much the way “The Glorious Dead” kicked off False. In fact, astute Gorefest fans will notice that many of the tracks have a familiar feel or lineage to many classic Gorefest tracks; “For the Masses” = “The Glorious Dead”, “Malicious Intent/ “Man to Fall” = “Piece of Paper/ “To Hell and Back”, “Exorcism” = “Soul Survivor”, “Rogue State” = “Reality-When You Die” , “Of Death and Chaos” = “False”, “The Call” = “Chapter 13”, “The New Gods” = “Electric Poet”, “‘Til Fingers Bleed” = “Horrors in a Retarded Mind” and so on and so forth. That alone should put tentative Gorefest fans at ease.

Still, the songs stand on their own merit as well as harken to the past. And more importantly, each track has its own pace, character and dynamics, something that was lacking on Chapter 13, even with the similar length, (Chapter 13 was waaaaaaay to long). Gone is the Hammond (which I actually enjoyed) and psychedelic 70’s experimentation of Soul Survivor and the pseudo rock posturing of Chapter 13, this is Gorefest at their base level, most straight forward, rocking out hardest. There are a few odd vocal change ups that hint towards Chapter 13’s ill placed clean vocals, (“You Could Make me Kill”, “Rogue State”) but thankfully they are infrequent and never fully fleshed out. The only track that seems to be a new development for Gorefest is the 10-minute instrumental closing title track. A fine track in itself, but a little overwrought and may have been better placed as an poignant mid album breather as it lacks the album ending, satisfying punch that “‘Til Fingers Bleed” has.

I was truly worried about how Gorefest would fare after eight years away, but Jan, Boudewijn, Ed and Frank have returned hungrier and eager to make up for Chapter 13 (and to some Soul Survivor, though personally I think it’s a great album). Boudewijn seems particularly rejuvinated with lots of superb solos, and drummer Ed Warby squeezes out some surprising blast beats.

In an era of continual blast beats and technical overkill, Gorefest have shown not only what real songwriting can do, they’ve shown the young guns how they did it back then, and how to do it nowadays. I tried really hard not to come across as a biased fanboy for this album, and I would have been quick to critisize La Muerte had it failed (like Obituary) but I failed miserably because frankly this is what a comeback album should fucking sound like, regardless of my affinity for the band.

Welcome the fuck back.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 28th, 2005


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