Finally the wait is over! Exhumed, purveyors of all things gore, have returned after 8 years with their brand new slab of gore metal greatness, All Guts, No Glory. Equipped with a new all star lineup, Matt Harvey once again proves that when it comes to gore, he’s your man. It’s nice to see that, like Decapitated, Exhumed have not lost their touch after such a protracted hiatus. The formula they concocted with 2003’s Anatomy Is Destiny is still very much alive here and it’s just plain awesome to get some new material from these guys.
Of course there has been a lot of hype surrounding this record. Not only because it’s Exhumed‘s return, but because of the personnel Harvey recruited to play alongside him. First off, he enrolled one of my favorite drummers working today, Danny Walker of Intronaut, Murder Construct, and Phobia fame (among many others). Danny has played with the band before, doing a few tours here and there, but had never gotten a chance to record with them, so I was stoked to hear that he would be contributing to the new album. Next up is former bassist Leon Del Muerte, who is also in Murder Construct and played with Intronaut and Phobia at one time or another. Rounding off the new lineup is rhythm guitarist Wes Caley of the band Stonehelm, who I’m not familiar with. Needless to say I don’t think he could’ve picked a better group of musicians to launch his raucous comeback.
So how does it all add up?
Let’s just say that it’s definitely Exhumed. Not surprisingly, All Guts, No Glory keeps with the more straight forward death metal style that Anatomy Is Destiny began. While a small part of me was hoping they’d harken back to their roots as a goregrind band, I respect Harvey for doing what he wants to do and doing it well. There are some incredibly heavy and thrashy slices of death metal on here. Songs like “Your Funeral, My Feast” and “Death Knell” kick you in the face right from the get-go and don’t let up for a second. The whole album doesn’t really let up for that matter; it pummels your over and over again until you think you might not be able to take it anymore. The only moments of reprieve come with Harvey’s distorted solos, which are harmonized in true Exhumed fashion.
The album starts off with a bang, with the title track acting as an intro of sorts, setting the mood for the blood-laden disaster to come. “As Hammer To Anvil”, the albums first single, comes at you full force with an odd melody that somehow works in a way that only Harvey can pull off. My favorite song on the record, “Dis-assembly Line”, leads off with one of the coolest riffs on the record drags you relentlessly along before slowing things down a bit and crunching out one of the sickest grooves the world of gore has ever seen.
As to be expected, the lyrics are heavily laden with gore-ific themes. While Harvey obviously has a sick and twisted mind, and loves gore and horror, he’s not as simple minded about it as most. Many of the lyrics, in the tradition of classic Exhumed records, deal with medical themes and pathology and are pretty well written and thought out, unlike so many death metal bands who just jump on the gore train because “it’s the thing to do”.
I’d have to say my only gripe with the record is its lack of variation. While I love the formula Exhumed created nearly two decades ago, I feel like All Guts, No Glory has almost no arc to it. Individually the songs are great, but as a whole the album has little cohesive flow. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but I do prefer it when an album tells a story, whether literally or through the music itself. All Guts, No Glory is more of a collection of badass songs than an album, and I feel like I’ll probably revisit specific songs more often than the entire record. I realize this may not affect some people the way it does me; the album is (sadly) a dying art form and many people would rather just listen to their favorite songs than an entire album. For me though, I would’ve liked a little more contrast throughout.
Aside from that, the performances are extremely well done by all involved. Matt Harvey’s signature thrash/grind/death metal style is clearly at work here and his guitar work is top notch throughout. Him and Caley work very well together, harmonizing with a dual attack that comes at you from all sides. Danny Walker beats the skins flawlessly, as one would expect, and doles out blast beat after blast beat like a bat out of hell. He and Leon give the songs a nice backbone, holding all the elements together like glue.
When all is said and done, All Guts, No Glory is an awesome album and a promising return for these gore metal veterans. I can’t wait to hear what these guys have in store for us in the future (assuming there won’t be another 8 year lapse in recordings) because if this is any indication, some things do still get better with age.
All Guts, No Glory – 8.4/10
1. All Guts, No Glory
2. As Hammer To Anvil
3. Your Funeral, My Feast
4. Through Cadaver Eyes
5. Death Knell
6. Distorted And Twisted To Form
7. I Rot Within
8. Dis-assembly Line
11. So Let It Be Rotten… So Let It Be Done
Favorite Song: Dis-assembly Line
All Guts, No Glory is out now on Relapse Records.