The Dead - Deathsteps to Oblivion - (8.5/10)
Published on October 13, 2014
Five years is a long wait between albums, but for Australian death metal trio The Dead the wait was worth it. Deathsteps to Oblivion, the trio’s follow up to 2009’s Ritual Executions, sees the band refining their sound and delivering the same high quality death metal fans of Aussie extreme metal have come to expect.
The Dead play a slow, brutal version of death metal. Deathsteps to Oblivion is dirty, murky, and oozes malevolence. As points of reference, The Dead sound similar to Autopsy or Incantation at their slowest and most rotten, with an added sludge/stoner doom twist. Deathsteps to Oblivion is full of thick, chunky guitar riffs, deep growls, and funky bass lines backed by slow, methodical drumming. It’s also quite minimalist in approach; riffs are repetitive and the drumming is rather straightforward. That’s not a complaint, as the lengthy, mostly instrumental jams are both crushing and memorable.
While the songs feature repetitive structures, they are given enough nuances to stand on their own. “Maze of Fire” features some downright disturbing growled chants, as does the closing title track. “Disturbing the Dead” features some eerie leads that add even more depravity and “Terminus” opens with a tribal beat, which gives way to one of the foulest riffs on the album. Vocalist Mike Yee, in addition to his extremely deep growls, utilizes a throat-ripping black metal shriek on occasion, usually as a form of punctuation.
Something of a curve ball comes in the form of the track “The God Beyond.” Opening with the album’s only blast beat, which sounds as off-kilter and deranged as they come, the track abruptly shifts gears to a mellow, atmospheric tone complete with female choir-like vocal chants. It’s a successful step in a different direction and It would be beautiful, if the accompanying music didn’t sound so filthy.
While not as well known as Portal or Destroyer 666, The Dead demonstrate once again that there’s something rotten down under. I’ll take the raw, organic feel of Deathsteps to Oblivion any day over the slick, over-produced version of death metal. Deathsteps to Oblivion may not be a drastic change from Ritual Executions, but it is an improvement, which is impressive since Ritual Executions was a solid release in its own right. Consistency and quality are both on display here and Deathsteps to Oblivion will give fans of slow, crushing death metal cause to remember when death metal actually sounded, you know, dead.