Death metal and I have a strained relationship at best. I used to love it but as I listened to more and more different genres throughout the metal world, I began to find a lot of death metal lacking, both in substance and in style. Too often I would pop in a CD and it would sound the exact same, all the way through. It was not the case with all of them, but more often than not a purchase of a death metal album, particularly a brutal death metal album, would feel like a waste. Thankfully there are bands out there that can still draw my interest. Northern Ireland’s Rex Shachath is one of those bands, they play the basics of brutal death metal yet at the same time they aren’t tired and boring. “Revocations of the Blood Elect,” their EP from 2015 is a good example of what I mean.
The album is short but it packs enough punch to feel like a full length album. All the standard elements of brutal death metal are here, guitars tuned as low as they can go with only occasional coherent melodies, thundering bass, and drums fast enough to sound indistinguishable from the guitars. As with all metal for me, the vocals are what make the difference. A lot of brutal death metal today is actually called slamming brutal death metal. Honestly that sounded stupid and ridiculous before I even listened to an example of it. To be short, I wish I hadn’t based on vocals alone. They sounded like pig squeals, not something that belongs in metal or music in general, it sounded horrible and killed any interest I may have had in the music itself. Rex Shachath though, go with the traditional death grunts and for the most part stick to it well. The vocals fit the music, it did not act like a cognate dissonance that distracted from the sound but rather enriched the deep, guttural music, like so many Irish metal bands I’ve listened to, from black metal to classic heavy metal, Rex Shachath has a deep seated, very emotionally raw anger to it, there is a lot of pain in the vocals but also lots of intelligence, another Irish trademark. This is the first brutal death metal that I’ve enjoyed since Deeds of Flesh, and that’s no small compliment.
Another part of brutal death metal that baffles me is the lyrics, not that you could understand much of it mind you, but what you can seems to be revelations of gore and violence that Cannibal Corpse came up with, and nowadays it’s overdone and overdramatic. The lyrics to Revocations of the Blood Elect are different, they are actually interesting and engaging. It’s a fascinating concept that seems to have flown by most of the brutal death metal scene. Shame because Rex Shachath do it really well.
Listen and support!