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Fetid Zombie – Transmutations Award winner

Fetid Zombie
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 19 July 2021, 6:56 AM

FETID ZOMBIE is the project of artist Mark Riddick, whose artwork, layout and designs have graced many releases over the years. He started the band way back in 2007 and has been rather prolific with it. "Transmutations" is FETID ZOMBIE's seventh full length album; numerous splits and EPs have also been released over the years. "Transmutations" is my first experience with his music so although I have little to compare it to, I can safely say I enjoyed the hell out of this album.

One look at their name and cover art might give the indication the album is another band doing a gory paint by numbers, knuckle dragging caveman death metal romp. There isn't anything wrong with that but "Transmutations" is so much. While it definitely is brutal and dark, the songs are cleverly written and filled with stellar ideas—the six track, thirty five minute runtime is stuffed to the brim with formed thinking ideas and surprises.  It isn't progressive or technical but just goddamn solid death metal that strives to rise above the pack.

"Chrysopoeia" opens the album with a very immediate short growl before the lead guitar turns the song into an atmospheric romp before the death growls that heavy riffs burst through the ambient fog. The drumming is frantic yet purposeful and pulls the guitar along to a classic heavy metal style riff around the 2:16 mark. Head banging commences and before my head fell, a beautiful melodic passage bounds around the corner.

"Conscious Rot," spins the mind around with dizzying leads and harrowing growls and background screams. The main riff is chug city and just stomps over everything. The clean, melodic passage in the song's middle bridges the halves together without sounding forced or out of place. Mark is a hell of a song writer and be can pretty much do what he wants with extreme metal and pulls it off. The later half of the song is more direct and fast paced with massive bass and distorted riffs.

"Beyond Andromeda," is a clever track that threads instrumentals with ease with a slick presentation that is sharp with edge yet adventurous. The growls glide over what feels like an alien, ambient landscape—-absolutely interesting and beautiful in its own way. Clare Webster's Gothic cleans are a nice touch on "Dreamless Sleep Awaits," and elevate the song with charm and maturity.  Mark's own growls pair well, providing deep echoed growls to give the entire song a cavernous feel. The song's ending solo caps the experience off nicely.

"Deep In The Catacombs," is urgent and boisterous sounding, at times, like thrash metal. The guitars are tight and the song is riff focused and zeroed in on destruction.  The riffs throughout the song are more intricate but maintain a smooth flow—this actually reminds me of DEATH.

The final track is “Breath of Thanatos,” and it is a wild ride the entire eight and a half minute run.  The opening moments consist of a brisk gallop and well placed growls for all of about thirty seconds before the music cools down to clean guitar and ambient keys.  Clare’s vocals return and, once again, the song is all the better for it.   Death growls invade the ambiance as the heavier parts creep back in.  The groove beginning around the 3:37 mark in undeniably infectious—as is the accompanying guitar solo that leads back to the ambient piece that finishes the song out.

FETID ZOMBIE’s “Transmutations,” is a nice surprise in the world of extreme metal for this second half of the year. I have no doubt that I am not the only person who finds this album to be a fresh take on death metal that will have be rethinking my best of lists.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Chrysopoeia
2. Conscious Rot
3. Beyond Andromeda
4. Dreamless Sleep Awaits
5. Deep in the Catacombs
6. Breath of Thanatos
Mark Riddick – Everything
Record Label: Transcending Obscurity Records


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