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Deceased | ‘Surreal Overdose’

A review isn’t necessarily the best place to go into it in too much depth, but Deceased have always kinda been the underdog. They’ve been around 26 years and seem to never really have reached the audience they should have, or risen above cult status.

The first band to ever release a full length LP on Relapse back in the day (the admittedly less than stellar “Luck of the Corpse”), they’ve fought label woes,illness, line up changes and so forth to somehow remain loyal to themselves and  adopt a “slow but steady” approach to releasing quality albums, with “Surreal Overdose” being their 6th, excluding eps and compilations.

Have they changed much in the 6 years since “As The Weird Travels On”? Not really, but if you like Deceased you probably neither expected nor wanted them to.

Opening with the lengthy “Skin Crawling Progress” their instantly recognisable high velocity death/thrash sound is intact – and indeed they sound so keen to break loose on this first track that ocassionally the drums seem to charge ahead a little too far in front of the other instruments.

The slight sloppiness aside (and it’s the only noticeable example of this on the record), the band are in fine form as they twist and turn through various tempos and riffs, charging from the rabid speed to dischordant midpaced sections, guitar melodies and back.

It’s six minutes and fifty three seconds long. And at no point does so much as one second of the song feel unnecessary. It flies by in what feels like half the time. Always a good sign.

Deceased in full flight really is a glorious thing to be honest. “Kindred Assembly” and “The Traumatic” are both full speed ahead ragers in the classic mould, delivered with a vitality that many younger bands could learn from. “Cloned”  is a highlight for me.

Riding in on a dual guitar hook, it starts as almost traditional heavy metal  with it’s headbanging pace, guitar melodies and almost singalong chorus given a gnarlier edge by Fowley’s barked vocals – but midway through a strange sample ushers in more of the raging speed, and a bizarre “Buck Rogers” style robot voice. It’s a bit of a “what the fuck?” moment at first but it makes perfect sense on further listens.

The closing “Dying in Analog”, another epic track, is my other highlight, again marrying the dual guitar harmonies to the harsher moments beautifully.

Heavy metal has become so genre-specific in the last decade or two, so hellbent on sticking to rules and being “true” that I think right now I value a band like Deceased more than ever – they’re for sure primarily a death/thrash metal band but they’ve never been afraid to add moments of progression or classic heavy metal elements, have always thrown caution to the wind and concentrated more on writing music for themselves instead of worrying about being the most brutal or whatever.

And this album is yet another testament to the fact that they write really fucking good songs. They capture the imagination and get the blood pumping on this album the way bands did when it was all new to me. This record, like all their previous, is a labour of love and it shows.

“Surreal Overdose” is probably not going to get the kind of coverage or exposure of new releases by other bands of a similar vintage this year, but goddamnit, it deserves it, and I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say this is quite likely to be in my top ten for the year come December.

A quick note in closing – I saw Voivod play a show at Roadburn recently that felt very much like a rebirth, a band returning to their full strength for the first time in years. I couldn’t help but note that Snake was wearing a Deceased shirt on stage, and listening to this album that kind of feels symbolic in a way – like Voivod on that night, Deceased on “Surreal Overdose” feel like a band born again, approaching another peak in their career.

4.2/5 – Jamie Grimes ::: 15/5/11

  1. Dying to hear this. Deceased are bloody awesome.

  2. thanks, excellent review Jamie! up the tombstones!

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