Every now and then there comes a label that decides to revive the legacy of a certain band by releasing a posthumous compilation. This makes sense when dealing with prolific or seminal bands, but when it comes to lesser known or even obscure bands, releases of this type become questionable. If those bands haven't stamped their mark on the scene when they were active, what difference would it make to exhume them? The appeal of such releases is even more questionable with bands that most of their scant materials are mainly demos.
This is the question I had in mind while listening to "Possession of the Flesh,"
a compilation of OSSUARY INSANE
, a Minnesotan Death Metal band, released by the label Blood Harvest
. To give you some background, the band formed in 1991 as OSSUARY
and operated under this moniker until 1995 (and released a three-track demo during this period), and then changed its name to OSSUARY INSANE
and recorded one LP and three demos before it split up before the conclusion of the last decade. This compilation consists of previously unreleased recordings from 2001 and 2003, though most of the songs are featured in the 2005 demo "The Soundtrack to Human Extermination."
Only three songs are seeing the light of day for the first time.
So, what does the band sounds like? All the above makes for a rickety starting point, but all fears dissolve when you listen to the actual music. According to www.metal-archives.com
, more than 39,000 bands on the 115,000-band database are Death Metal bands (in all shapes, forms and combinations), making it the best represented genre. It also means that it's extremely difficult for a band to stand out. After the first track I came to the conclusion that this band deserves more respect than it had probably gotten, since we are dealing with very good and dynamic Death Metal in the vein of DEATH
and VITAL REMAINS
and the sheer intensity of early DEICIDE
. The vocals sit somewhere between a young Glenn Benton
's mid-range semi-shouted growls and John Tardy
's haunted screams. What strikes me the most is the clever progression inherent in the music without making it sound "progressive." Every twist and turn is accepted naturally, but when you halt for a moment and think about what you've just heard and listen to it again, you don't find actual antics that amount to anything – it's simply excellent songwriting. As for the lyrics, there you find the downtrodden path of Death Metal clichés with a decent dose of profanity.
Two of the songs, "My Name is God & I am a Liar"
and "Hell City,"
appear twice in different versions, or rather different quality of recording. I find this senseless, but my complaints end there. All the tracks that were recorded in 2003 are more refined in terms of production and sound, which is very similar to the typical early-1990's USDM before it gave way to the rampant over-polished and futile sound of more modern bands. The band is tight and the songs are performed skillfully. This recording is characterized by diversity, not only between tracks but also within the tracks themselves. "Shallow Roadside Grave"
bursts with a driving riff and energetic drumming that turns into blast beats after a short interlude. It is fast but also has a good sense of melody, which is best felt in the doomy section towards the end before the fast pace is regained. "Killing Mortals / Laid to Waste"
is actually two songs combined into a single track. It is a bit slower with big, sweeping riffs that make it anthemic. The drumming in here is at its height, showcasing the full arsenal of skills.
My favorite track is "My Name is God & I am a Liar,"
with its odd rhythms and playful vibe reminiscent of PUNGENT STENCH
. The other tracks possess more of the same, the only difference being in sound – the 2001 recordings have rawer, more open sound. In fact, they sound as if all instruments were recorded simultaneously live in the studio (I haven't confirmed that, just a hunch).
There you have it – thanks to a label that knows its business, the legacy of a band that was too short-lived to exert its weight on the scene was brought to life, revealing gems of Death Metal otherwise doomed to remain in oblivion. If you have a penchant for the more modern and evolved Death Metal with a nod to the days of old, this one is for you.