Nucleus/Ectoplasma/Fetid Zombie/Temple of Void
4 Doors to Death II

WARNING!!!*** This review is being presented to you in extremely late fashion, mainly due to the world right now being crazy and my sorry ass being lazy…In fact, you may have already heard and formed opinions on this four-way split, yet I encourage you to read on as your opinions are probably wrong, seeing that they didn’t originate from us here at the ‘ol Divine…I kid, I kid…Seriously though, indulge, no, engorge yourself in my ramblings below, for whether your first or your 100th time experiencing said album, 4 Doors to Death II is definitely worth your time.

A few years ago I reviewed the 4 Doors to Death four-way split released via Unspeakable Axe Records and I not only touched upon the stellar job done by both the label and the contributing bands of introducing themselves upon a potentially untapped listener, but also the nostalgia 4 Doors to Death provided in the way of remembrance and homage to the early ’90’s Roadrunner Records’ compilation, At Death’s Door. Just like A.D.D. had its follow-up successor, At Death’s Door II, Unspeakable Axe follows similar suit with 4 Doors to Death II. Though where Roadrunner’s first comp. was superior to its successor, Unspeakable Axe delivers a fantastic split in 4 Doors to Death II, easily surpassing it predecessor, and I say that with no disrespect to the bands from the initial 4 Doors…, but the truth is 4 Doors to Death II simply crushes.

If I’m being totally honest, I have to admit to being a bit worried about the quality of the content that was to be found on 4 Doors to Death II (simply known as 4DD2 from here on out). Out of the four represented bands, Nucleus, Ectoplasma, Fetid Zombie, and Temple of Void, three had brand new full-length albums released within the last year. One could only speculate and assume that the better, more catchy, more hard-hitting material would be saved for each band’s individual releases and that contributions to said four-way split would herein contain b-sides/leftovers from previous recording sessions. While that assumption is not necessarily wrong, it definitely isn’t right either; one doesn’t have to fret too much, as pretty much all of the tracks presented on 4DD2 are solidly competent through and through and ultimately, are just as good as any of the band’s material on their own independent releases. In fact, I was a bit surprised that not only was everything as good as it was, but it’s the lesser known acts of the four i.e. Ectoplasma and Fetid Zombie, that seemed to step up to the plate and deliver one hell of a homerun onslaught with their respective material.

After a simple and slightly eerie piano intro Nucleus comes storming out of the gates,    kicking things off with a densely packed, off kilter, and damn near dissonant, in your face, barbarous ripper in the form of “Nexus”.  The song gives off an uneasy, equilibrium askewed feeling that Nucleus has made a sound out of, recalling the influential might of their main inspirations, Timeghoul and Demilich, as well as a healthy dose of Immolation and Incantation. It’s a good track and suitable opener, but honestly nothing that the band hasn’t delivered before and even better on their own releases. The band follows up “Nexus” with the more intriguing and engaging “Replicant”, showcasing a bit of a d-beat step in the song’s beginning that quickly morphs into an Incantation-esque death shuffle of weighty avalanche riffs, bends, squeals, and an overall evil dirtiness. The track has an underlying thrashing to it, almost upbeat in its pseudo-dissonance , with waves of riffage cascading upon each other that highlight a barrage of blasts one moment, while bringing things to a sudden lurching of brutality the next. Like the majority of Nucleus‘ output, “Replicant” seems to purposefully suffer from schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder, while blissfully maintaining a sound the band has expertly crafted.

Skipping ahead a bit to Temple of Void, who actually close out 4DD2 with a trio of tracks that are damn impressive on their own, and even moreso when taken into the three-song concept that lyrically ties them together, are exactly the kind of examples I would provide to any newcomers to the band. “Voidmind” is a top notch representation of Temple of Void, being a slower to midpaced dirge of oppressive crush that the band masters so damn well. The track opens in a slight evocative way, leading to gloriously heavy and simpler riffage of moving doom. Paired with the D&D lyrical content of  mind flayers and ustilagors, “Voidmind” hits in a perfect crushing emotional stir that befits the band to a tee. The last two contributions from T.o.V., and the albums final two tracks  as well, are the instrumental, “Perfection of the Hideous” and “Ceremorphisis”. The former begins with a roll of thunder and a light pour of rainfall as a slow and eerie melody picks itself out of the dreaded feeling that the song produces. The track’s melody is a simple thing of melancholic beauty that eventually gives way to a  gorgeous guitar solo that gives a wonderful feeling of Glenn Tipton influence. The latter, “Ceremorphisis” is Temple of Void doing what they do, and that is laying the crush down. Fat riffs and burly death driven bellows and gutturals meld together in earth flattening authority. Half-way through the track picks up its tempo, bringing the onslaught of riffery to a slightly higher kill score. Lyrically the track finishes up its tale of, well, ceremorphisis, and becoming a mind slave to another creation and elder life. Good stuff that fits within the different mythos T.o.V. have lyrically employed.

Also contributing a trio of tracks to ADD2 is the long running one-man band, Fetid Zombie, of artist and instrumentalist, Mark Riddick. One-man acts can be definitely be hit or miss, and Fetid Zombie has been no different in the past, as I’ve been familiar with the band for quite awhile now. Having said that, I think Riddick has been more successful than not when it comes to Fetid Zombie, and the tracks he contributes here are actually some his best, if I dare say so myself. Though to be fair and honest, Riddick has upped the ante on some of his material over the past five years or so by letting go of the reins a bit and employing some guest and session members on various vocal, drum, and lead guitar duties. Recent material has included the participation of Daniel Alderson(Horrified),  Ralf Haubersson(Revel in Flesh), Chris Monroy(Skeletal Remains), James Malone(Arsis), and even Michael Amott(Arch Enemy, Carcass, Carnage). These guest appearances have injected some freshness to Fetid Zombie‘s already established sound, as well as some genuine full-fledged band feeling.

Things are no different this go around, as Riddick has enlisted, once again, James Malone for leads, Jeramie Kling(The Absence, Ribspreader, Necromancing the Stone) for drums, and Clare Webster(EdenFall), Daniel Kelley(Ossuarium), and Kyle Shaw(Obscene) all for vocal roles. A solid line-up for some solid material. From “Bloodlust Consecrations”, and its old-school thrashing death mixed with just a smidge  of  ’90’s progressive death and slathered in torturously brutal vocals, tasty grooves and pinch harmonics, to the synth laden, death lurching, Pestilence styled flavor of “Celestial Horror”, to “Chaos Scythe”, and its ripping deathly thrashings that recall some of F. Z.’s earlier days of brutal and blast. “Chaos Scythe” comes in a little shorter and a bit more straight forward, but the energy contained within is high and addictive, leaving you wanting more when the song and ultimately, Fetid Zombie‘s time is up.

Saving the best for last, at least here in my review, is Greece’s Ectoplasma, who are actually the second band featured on ADD2 when listened to in proper order. Though I only became aware and familiar with the band through their sophomore full-length, the 2018 release, Cavern of Foul Unbeings, I’ve been a stauch fan and supporter since. Having formed in 2012 and not releasing their debut until 2016, Ectoplasma has since remained quite prolific, having just released White-Eyed Trance, their third full-length album, last year, as well as a few splits and EP’s between proper LP’s. Nonetheless, I was a little surprised to not only see them featured on ADD2, but to find out that their contributions were just as fantastic to my ears as any of their previous material.

Thick and grimey, yet full of punch and crunch, Ectoplasma is a gnarly old-school maelstrom of death metal bliss. The band seemingly has the ability to remind me of the entire ’90’s death metal scene while staying true to itself and its own originality, if you can call it that. From the stylings of Cannibal Corpse, Grave, Death, Benediction, Immolation, (older) Gorguts, Sinister, Suffocation, Incantation, Seance, Vore, Autopsy, and even Bolt Thrower, Ectoplasma somehow manages to cull an uncanny amount of influence into their sound without sounding and/or coming off as a cheap imitation or a plagiaristic knock-off.  Not to be that guy, but if you’re one of the older folks(forty and over), then you’re going to, most likely, dig the living shit out of these Greecians. Whether it be the monstrous ripping pummel of fat riffs, double kicks, and springy bass found in “Infestation of the Extraneous Ones”, the fast and engaging, ready to blast off faces and saw off heads metal ‘o death groove of “Ominous Wormhole Butchery”, the catchy, chunky riffed and rolling bass blaster of “Extraterrestrial Matter of Amorphous Rot”, complete with some nice uptempo thrashings that remind of their Spitting Coffins debut, or  “Atrocious Ovomorphic Death” (ya gotta love these song titles…seriously, they’re most excellent), and the track’s straightforward, in your face, scorching divinity; not to mention its massive Vore-ish breakdown at the 2:25 mark, you’re going to love this band.

All in all, I would have to say that 4DD2 is quite a success. Not only does it bring a mix of great current death metal might, but as I stated at the beginning of this review, it even manages to eclipse the first 4 Doors to Death outing. The bands featured on 4DD2 are simply a great representation of the kind of death metal that got us fans into and made us fall in love with the genre in the first place. Hell, half of the appeal and allure of 4DD2 is its real deal ingenuinity. This album and the bands therein are not your flavor of the week trend or some retro bandwagon to jump on. Whether currently realized or not by the metal majority, these bands are a few amongst a handful of acts that are paving a path to be possible front runners and/or top-tier stature holders in the very near future, so do yourself a favor and check out 4 Doors to Death II and the stellar acts within before your neighbor’s thirteen year old starts sporting that latest Temple of Void t-shirt.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
August 7th, 2020


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