Since their formation over twenty years ago, American grindcore/death metal band Exhumed have established themselves as one of the pioneers of "gore metal". Featuring repulsive album covers, even more repulsive lyrics, and music brutal enough to make your head explode, it's safe to say that Exhumed's music is not for the faint of heart. After a five year hiatus beginning in 2005, the band has returned with All Guts, No Glory - yet another brutal, gore-soaked album from Matt Harvey and company. One look at the cannibalistic album cover, or just the title itself, and it's clear that the band has lost none of their "inspiration" over this period of time. All Guts, No Glory is not a flawless masterpiece, but it's a more-than-worthy acquisition for anyone searching for some truly "extreme" metal.
The music here is a cross between the raw intensity of American death metal, the fat riffs of Swedish death metal, and the thick blastbeats and vocal variation of goregrind. The lyrics (mainly dealing with gore, dismemberment, cannibalism, and other pleasant topics) give All Guts, No Glory an atmosphere not too different from a group like Cannibal Corpse, despite the added grindcore influence. Just read the lyrics to "Your Funeral, My Feast", and you'll get a picture what topics are covered here. The aforementioned track also happens to be favorite from the album - those riffs are just killer! A few semi-melodic guitar solos give All Guts, No Glory plenty of good variation; this album certainly is not a never-ending and boring shredfest, despite its overall brutality. The production and musicianship are also both professional and highly enjoyable. Danny Walker's relentless drumming especially impresses me - the man is simply a monster!
All Guts, No Glory is a good example of grindcore/death metal done right. Killer riffs, technical compositions, top-notch solos, and tons of vocal variation are all present on this effort from Exhumed, and that's ultimately what makes this such a successful record. I would've enjoyed a bit more variation in the songwriting department (not just the semi-melodic guitar solos), as well as more of an original approach (lyrically and stylistically), but otherwise this is a very impressive effort. I'm sure Exhumed didn't intend on shattering boundaries with All Guts, No Glory, but if their goal was to create a highly enjoyable extreme metal album, then they've succeeded tremendously. 3.5 stars seems very fair here. If you enjoy your extreme metal on the more tongue-in-cheek, gore-oriented side and also enjoy thoughtful compositions, All Guts, No Glory is a tremendous recommendation.