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.