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From The Vaults #2 | Angelcorpse

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

  1. Well deserved plaudits, amazing band, I had this on constantly in 2000, and released in a time too when the underground was truly on it’s arse. Essential.

  2. Huh, thought this was a serviceable album at best; it’s just straight forward, generic death metal (I picked it up on the “for sale” thread here last year, so maybe hearing it for the first time so late has lessened its impact on me).

    Loreano is indeed a beast, but the playing on this gets pretty repetitive and boring (which is the exact same way I feel about most of Sandoval’s work, funnily enough).

    Still, an enjoyable read and these features are pretty cool.

  3. paul keohane Says:

    Its their best for me, , absolutely class album!,I was aware of the band earlier but this was the album that i heard 1st, would love to have caught them live!

  4. Connorputrefy Says:

    And what an album it is too!

  5. Owenofhexxed Says:

    Absolute belter! Picked this up with failures for gods – listened to nothing but these 2 albums for about 3 months solid.

    I think this whole article is 100% however you only briefly mentioned vocals. They vox and lyrics on this are something else… There is that nod to the slight right… Like a David Vincent meets Phil anselmo at their edgiest best… and when it’s delivered with this level of conviction… It’s a heady mix.

    Then the guitars… Yes it’s not overly technical but listen to the playing… It sounds like he’s actually angry whilst play these riffs… Something sorely lacking today.

    Every track on this is great but the last song – fall of the idols of flesh – is almost a perfect death metal track

  6. i remember buying the vinyl from the sound cellar and a lad who should know better calling it “nazi shite”” ,going on the band pic and song titles ,and never having heard a note.

    killer album !massive morbid angel influence and a heap of slayers aggression

  7. King Hostile Says:

    These recordings you keep reminding me of are great! keep up the good work 🙂

  8. Sedgebeast Says:

    Great album – pure DM savagery with a touch of ‘wind-in-the-hair’ BM intensity to it also. Have to say though, comments on the drumming on ‘Exterminate’ are a little harsh – plenty of power, speed and intensity there also. Bit more variety perhaps as well.

  9. Barrytron Says:

    Remember being knocked out by their cover of Pleasure to Kill. Such a vicious sound. Played at some gig where Laureano used my kit, playing in old skool cowboy boots. Nice guy and great drummer

  10. Black Shepherd Says:

    They fairly fucking slayed live alright. Good choice CT. And Owen’s right to highlight the vocals again – they’re exactly what you want in this style of DM, that deep demonic retch. It’s clear that vocally Helmkamp and Melissa from Adorior share the same influences.

  11. Prolonged_Spumesence Says:

    It’s definitely one of those albums that should be credited with helping to pull death metal out of the doldrums at the end of the 90’s. They were one of a handful of bands waiting in the wings, ready to wrest the crown from Morbid Angel who were just about to take a nose dive which they would never recover from. There was a prolific period there between maybe 98-2001 where you were getting a new album almost once a year from some.

    Exterminate was a great record too (as is hammer of gods), but I always found the production very flat and muddied sounding which kinda dulls the impact a bit. Both the previous records though are a lot more chaotic which is not as present on much the more controlled and polished The Ineoxrable.

    None So Vile, Conquerers of Armageddon and Among the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka were 3 more from around the same period of time that were part of that resurge that essentially got DM back into the print publications. Whether they’ve stood the test of time now is another thing, but they were certainly high-profile enough to precipitate a lot of movement again within Death Metal.

    Funnily enough, none of those bands never managed to follow up on any of those releases.

    Some of the old guard bands, notably Immolation also played a key part in reviving things also, with top notch releases like Failures for Gods and Close to a World below. Even Morbid Angels’s Formulas fatal to the flesh was pretty damn good, if a bit meandering toward the end. Definitely their last gasp.

    Definitely an interesting period for underground metal as a whole.

  12. Invictus Says:

    The 90s was desperate for mainstream metal but for the underground it went from strength to strength. ‘The Inexorable’ was a one of those definable, 90s records that made a big impact.

  13. Barrytron Says:

    Gotta do None So Vile next, what a terrifyingly brilliant piece of work

  14. Wow… it reminds me of Vital remains: the 2003 album Icons of Evil… almost sounds identical! thanks for pointing out this band!

  15. ollkiller Says:

    Good call, and as barrytron said none so vile should be done. Flawless album start to finish.

  16. Prolonged_Spumesence Says:

    None So Vile is such a relentlessly vicious album alright. Just the right mix of Technicality, Speed, Chaos and out and out insanity.
    Its a hard album to match on any combination of those key criteria.

  17. Angelcorpse…….!! Fuckin animal band…..!!

    Best album was Exterminate…. Nuclear Explosive Death stuffs!

  18. blagnasty Says:

    Good shout what a album! I was solidly obsessed with this band throughout my mispent youth and have been consistanly bemused by the lack of support (during and after they split) for this truly amazing band. I had the pleasure of meeting Tony laureno once at a Nile gig and even he was shocked by my enthusiasm for that record! Absolute classic

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