Some days you just need a perk up. And some days, only a blast of the tightest, sharpest and most incendiary extreme metal will do.
This is when Angelcorpse’s career defining ‘The Inexorable’ becomes not only desirable, but essential.
1999 seems but the blink of an eye away. Some may well question why this is popping up in a From The Vaults feature at all, given that it mightn’t have yet left their stereo.
But (terrifyingly) that’s now 15 years ago – and this album remains as incisive, biting and thunderous as it did when it first shook the very foundations of the earth.
Basically, though it was feted to the high heavens even then, it’s very possible that this essential gem passed you by. Or indeed that you’ve never even heard of it.
Angelcorpse were never a big band. They never got cover features, they never got big tours, and they were just a wee bit too rough to be on the right side of proper consumption.
Their main man and guiding light was Pete Helmkamp, bastion of ultra aggressive and militaristic proto- death/black/thrash metal underground heroes Order From Chaos, from whose charred remains Angelcorpse arose.
He’s rarely been one to pull punches, as Angelcorpse’s first few albums showed.
Both ‘Hammer Of Gods’ and especially ‘Exterminate’ were furious and brutal maelstroms, chock full of blasts and nightmarish riffing. Yet looking back the drumming was a bit perfunctory, and the sound too reverbed to realise maximum devastation.
All of this changed with ‘The Inexorable’. The reason was clear. His name was Tony Laureano.
His career had been hitherto obscure, providing the drums for small time death metal bands in Florida (Aurora Borealis etc). But Helmkamp must have bricked himself when he heard this guy play – and realised instantly what he could do for Angelcorpse.
Laureano’s insanely aggressive, compacted and fast drumming absolutely tears out of ‘The Inexorable’ from the first, album defining riff.
It’s a riff so good that if you mention this album to any true fan of underground metal, it will be the very one they know.
Torn kicking and screaming straight from Morbid Angel’s ‘Altars Of Madness’ it has that same awesome quality that Trey and Sandoval used to be able to capture – to be going so fast as to actually be going backwards.
Like a car wheel’s spokes at 80mph.
The intense quality of songwriting and heads down, see you at the end insistence continues for the entire album. One is exhausted and exhilarated by the end of it.
And indeed context is everything here. It may have harked immediately and effortlessly to ‘Altars’ but its worth remembering that ‘The Inexorable’ came out the year after Morbid Angel’s last brilliant album – ‘Formulas Fatal To The Flesh’.
Few death metal fans could hear ‘The Inexorable’ and conclude anything other than that it should have been made by Morbid themselves.
Instead we got the loveable but somehow quaint ‘Gateways To Annihilation’.
The comparison is not to do Angelcorpse down. It’s not a question of copying or mimicry. Its a question of orthodoxy, and of established tradition.
We know Morbid Angel crated a mould. We allow bands to fill it because it rules so much, and because, ironically, that sound and approach has become so much more than the band that invented it.
Angelcorpse are the ultimate example. ‘The Inexorable’ is its natural and almost perfect outworking.
As I said, it was of course praised at the time. How could it not be? Its ferocious, indignant span laying waste to pretty much everything else that year.
It also launched Tony Laureano. It should come as no surprise that Nile picked him up thereafter, he in turn helping them to create ‘In Their Darkened Shrines’. Would it have been possible without him? Maybe. But that signature sound is all there.
Yet spare a thought for those early Angelcorpse albums, for they too highlighted the talent – no match then for Tony – of a prodigious young drummer.
His name? Well only John Longstrength, who would go on to solidify his own reputation in Origin.
Angelcorpse never really got the kind of recognition of any of these other bands.
So of you missed it, or never knew about it in the first place, you must immediately pick up ‘The Inexorable’.
In its absolute and total commitment to extreme death metal it shits on trend and fakery from height.
Its artwork says it all. A swirling monstrous mass of red hot space dragons (killer!), there can be no other outcome except musical explosions on a cosmological scale.
On a more mundane level, listening to it is like a caffiene injection direct to the eyeballs – and air drumming is not only required, but irresistible.
Could you say Helmkamp’s lyrics here harked to a not-always-hidden fascination with dodgy NS warmongery? You could.
Praise of this album’s music is not to be confused with praise of its thinly veiled themes.
Yet that music is awesome stuff for those needing the acceleration, crucial tightness and rhythmic prowess of death metal played to within an inch of its tolerances.
Fifteen years after its release it sounds fresh as when it came out, and still tears more modern arrivals to bits.
– Earl Grey ::: 18/06/14