Straddling the line between thrash metal and hardcore, Red Death are back with their third full-length album, ‘Sickness Divine’. From the name of the record to the music to the artwork, it’s hard to get more metal than this.
The title-track opens up proceedings with a harmonically rich acoustic guitar intro, which then builds via a tribal drum beat into a real stomper to open things up. The shouted vocal delivery beings a real sense of urgency, and there’s a strong sense of fun on display too.
‘Face The Pain’ combines a more traditional sounding 1980s metal gallop with a more hardcore inspired section at the end. It should be clear at this point that Red Death are in no way reinventing the wheel, but they can undoubtedly deliver on what they’re going for.
A brief moment of respite appears in the form of the dual guitar-led interlude, ‘Anvil’s Ring’, which certainly helps to offer some variation, and the bombast of this works surprisingly well. And ‘Sheep May Unsafely Graze’, complete with a cowbell break, keeps up the fun factor with a memorable chanted chorus which leads nicely into a fast solo.
This no doubt exudes quality and delivers on the front of being an instantaneous head banger’s record, but you do find yourself wishing for a little more inventiveness at times. The tempo changes and switches are well done, but they don’t feel that invigorating after a while, they feel more like they’re applied in a “you still with us?” kind of way. And, because they happen very often, they may perhaps spoil the intended effect. Then again, Red Death aren’t pretending to be something that they’re not.
‘Dreadful Perception’ is a decent segue, providing some solid dual guitar work again. ‘Ravage’ keeps up the intensity all the way through, and the changeover at the end into slower territory is one of the more effective uses of this technique.
‘Exhalation Of Decay’ is a very strong and ambitious closer, with a clean guitar intro and some haunting, almost zombie-like vocals that show that Red Death can deliver more tense and atmospheric moments when they want to. Perhaps a bit more of this side of them could be showcased next time.
Short, sweet, and straight to the point, ‘Sickness Divine’ is another solid offering from Red Death, and should no doubt scratch your itch if you’re into the current crop of thrash metal and hardcore crossover bands.