Fetid Zombie – Epicedia
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
I’ve always liked a little atmosphere in my metal; the use of synths, symphonic elements, or ambient noise can really add an extra layer of emotion to just about any genre. Death metal probably isn’t the first sub-genre that comes to mind when you’re looking for some tunes with some atmospheric elements, though there have been notable exceptions, such as Septicflesh and Necrophagia. Virginia’s Fetid Zombie, are another death metal outfit that, in my opinion, deserve to be mentioned in the atmospheric/epic death metal discussion.
Formed in 2007, Fetid Zombie is the brainchild of Mark Riddick, who has been a part of the underground metal scene since the 90s. Epicedia, the latest release from Fetid Zombie, takes some of the old-school vibes of the 90s death metal scene, and brings them into an epic, moody realm that could almost be described as horror metal. The heavy use of keyboards and synthesizers give the record an eerie vibe similar to what you would hear on a Hooded Menace record, adding a gloomy, gothic tone that actually manages to make the riffs sound heavier. “Lowered Beneath,” for instance, has a death/doom My Dying Bride feel to it, with crushing riffs that are made all the more crushingly heavy by the presence of synthesized choral-style vocals. The melodic solos and occasional melody-driven riffs manage to also pay homage to the 80s, particularly on “If The Dead Could Talk,” which has a somewhat classic heavy metal feel (think Iron Maiden), thanks to the galloping rhythm and the twin guitar attack.
Though much of Epicedia sounds like classic, epic heavy metal meets 90s death metal (with some gothic elements mixed in), the production is on par with just about any other modern metal record. The instruments and vocals come through the mix with perfect clarity, while the slight reverb helps enhance that old-school vibe that the riffs and “cookie monster” vocals already evoke. The only complaint I can make, if anything, is that the record seems to end all too soon, despite the fact each of the 4 tracks are nearly 10 minutes long apiece. If you like classic-sounding death metal with a little bit of melody and gloomy atmosphere, give Epicedia by Fetid Zombie a spin.
Red Cain – Red Cain
Location: Calgary, Canada
Over the course of this EP’s four songs, Red Cain introduce themselves and their take on hard rock to the world, and while I wouldn’t expect it to wow many people with the actual music, the effort shown in putting the EP together should see them in good stead when they go to make a follow-up.
In the first half, the band’s practice of glazing electronic effects onto fairly basic guitar and drum riffs, and splicing in some uncommon touches (like the piano interlude in opening track “Guillotine”, or the same song’s later dip into dubsteppish percussion drilling), doesn’t do much to elevate the music’s base style with these embellishments. Instead, they kind of highlight how much the core pieces simply sit there, practically looping in their simplicity, with both sides falling just short of seeming to really interact with each other. The second half, in “Hiraeth” and “Unborn”, manages to shake off some of this stiffness, letting the instruments have more life to their playing and place in the songs (and fitting the extra touches to the instruments, instead of vice versa), so it seems likely that Red Cain just need to continue writing music to reach a consistent level of quality.
On the up-side, the vocalist puts in some good work, managing to earn some contrast with the instruments by dint of exploring a variety of ways for his voice to express things. Throaty resonance, above-average soaring, and fluttering pitch-changes are some of the more notable tricks he puts to use, handily beating out the busy production to take place as the star component. While I can’t really put forward a non-provisioned recommendation of the band in their current state, I’d say they are one to keep an ear on, and their next release should be a good indicator of whether they’ll step up their efforts (maybe by playing up the fantasy metal elements evident in a couple of the songs) or stick at their current level.