Grotesque Memories is a satisfying sophomore album courtesy of Raleigh, North Carolina's Bloodsoaked. Peter Hasslebrack, the band's sole member, acts as a necromancer throughout the record's ten tracks by reanimating the corpse of classic brutal death metal. It is a successful zombiefication - the music is simplistically savage and the lyrics gory and anti-religious. Delivered with obvious passion by its one-man killing machine, this CD is D.I.Y. death metal for those who love the genre most.
Bloodsoaked's latest effort succeeds because of its decidedly retrogressive stance. Deeds is at its heart a homage to genre legends like Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary and early Deicide. There's no inhuman technicality, no breakdowns and most importantly, no obvious influences from outside the genre. There is, however, a knack for fiendishly memorable riffs and no-frills lyrics which take on an animalistic, obsessive quality in their repetition. It is a formula many have done successfully, but usually not alone.
A song like "Rotting in Filth" is thus all the more entertaining given Hasslebrack takes the lone wolf route in composing it. The leads are buzzing and aggressive like a swarm of killer bees, while the riffs contrast nicely by employing a crushing thickness of tone. Hasslebrack's growls are coherent yet guttural, while the drum machine is so smartly programmed it sounds like another person. As the album's first cut, "Filth" quickly dispels any worries Bloodsoaked can't keep up with bigger bands.
Songs like "Existence Denied" perhaps prove Hasslebrack can outperform them. Its confident guitar parts are huge in scope, reaching a level of epic on the same scale as Behemoth or Nile. The chorus riff churns like stomach acid during indigestion, and Hasslebrack wisely accentuates the tone by emitting piercing shrieks over his normal growls. Played at a mid-paced tempo, it seems to exist solely for pulverizing eardrums.
The rest of the disc does just that while displaying a surprising range given the strict formula employed. "Grotesque Memories" is a barnstormer of blastbeats and breakneck riffs. "Depression" kicks off with a spidery guitar line quickly swallowed by a firestorm of percussion. "Unborn Horror," the album's undisputed highlight, hits like a barrage of punches to the temple with its smothering atmosphere and steamroller drum programming. The album is capped off with an excellent cover of Obituary's "Gates of Hell," this version retaining the beatdown-ready grooves of the original.
It works so well - as do the other songs on Deeds - given Bloodsoaked gets golden-age death metal. Every song harkens to an era where bloody imagery and pummeling music ruled the day. Deeds as such offers a valuable lesson to today's death metalhead straight from the oldschool. This is no mere bedroom band, but rather a benchmark for single musician brutality.
Rotting in Filth
Rise with Me
My Own God
Blind Date Beating
Gates to Hell (Obituary Cover)