Fetid Zombie [USA]
Mark Riddick, a name that is well-known in the international death metal circle as an artistic genius with his grotesque artworks that have graced many a classic death metal release. Not satisfied to simply contribute to the genre with his visual orgasms, Fetid Zombie was formed in 2007 for him to give his interpretation of the genre. Yet the only instance that I have heard anything from the band was their 2010 sophomore, Vomiting in the Baptismal Pool, which clearly showed Riddick’s preference for crushing, brutal death metal. This year Fetid Zombie returns with their fifth (already?!) full length, Grotesque Creation.
The first thing that one notices on Grotesque Creation is the whole list of guest musicians that appear, ranging from Horrendous to Rotting Christ, promising one hell of an exciting record with the star-studded lineup. Kicking off with Entombed Existence, one immediately notices the departure from the style that I was exposed to on Vomiting in the Baptismal Pool. Gone are the Devourment-esque brutal death metal, and instead Riddick explores different styles over here. For example, Herring of Horrendous appears on this track as guest vocals, the track isn’t exactly Swedish-leaning, and is instead a mid-pace death metal number with some hints of technicality included to spice things up.
The entire record is interesting, with most of the tracks seeing Fetid Zombie presenting something different to the listener, remaining constantly fresh. Unlike peers of today, Fetid Zombie does not attempt to be completely heavy, brutal or fast – instead tweaking his musical style on each track according to the styles of the guest musicians. For instance, Into the Unknown sees Fetid Zombie going into a more melodic, old school rock ‘n’ roll territory, Grotesque Creation has the inclusion of Marty Friedman-styled leads and haunting synths to create a Swedish death metal backdrop, Razor-Sharp Attack sees some of the, erm, sharpest riffs on the record, and so on. You get the picture.
Unfortunately, there are moments where things can get rather inconsistent, and that whole range of influences that Fetid Zombie attempts to include on a single record can prove to be confusing to the listener. Sure, there are moments of genius here and there, but as soon as the band builds up that excitement and climax, things end and move on to something different altogether.
Still, the way that Riddick has dared to explore and push musical boundaries on Fetid Zombie and Grotesque Creation is applaudable, and throughout the record he often incorporates elements not typically associated with the genre, both in terms of instruments utilised – like that banjo on Death’s Pallor – and his songwriting styles. With most bands choosing to stick to beaten path these days, Grotesque Creation can be a refreshing listen for jaded fans of death metal.
Favourite picks: Outstretched Hand of Rotten Death (atmospheric, and haunting as fuck!)
1. Entombed Existence
2. Into the Unknown
3. Grotesque Creation
4. Razor-Sharp Attack
5. The Way of Mortality
6. Utterance of Doom/Microcosm
7. Death’s Pallor
8. Morbid Premonition
9. Outstretched Hand of Rotten Death