THE GLORIOUS DEAD — Into Lifeless Shrines (review)

THE GLORIOUS DEAD — Into Lifeless Shrines album cover Album · 2020 · Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Old school death metal is an extreme style of music that never seems to get old and as the 21st century finds death metal exploding into myriad directions, some stalwarts of its origins remain faithful to some of its earliest stylistic approaches. THE GLORIOUS DEAD is one such act that hails from Traverse City, Michigan and was actually founded as far back as 2008 by T.J. Humlinski (bass, guitar, vocals) and Marty Rytkonen (guitar) after which together released “The Burdensome Ceremony of Interment” EP in 2009. After numerous attempts of getting a stable band together, the lineups continued to fall apart and the project sat inactive until 2017 when the band was revived with a renewed invigoration of passion for the classic sounds of early 90s death metal.

Notable for catching the essence of doom metal with death metal tempos and gnarled viscous riff attacks, THE GLORIOUS DEAD has mined the inexhaustible wellspring of inspiration laid down in death metal’s initial dominion over the extreme metal world in the early 1990s. Taking a cue from bands like Grave, Obituary, Runemagick, Purtenance, Convulse, Bolt Thrower, Incantation, Immolation, Morbid Angel and Entombed, THE GLORIOUS DEAD has emerged as a powerhouse tribute to these early pioneers and includes not only Humlinski and Rytkonen back at the helm but includes bassist Chris Boris and powerhouse drummer Chris Fulton whose percussive prowess anchors the band in the contemporary technical death metal world while evoking the reverie of the classic old school era.

After another short EP titled “Imperator of the Desiccated” was released in 2019, the band had honed its chops to craft its long-awaited full-length debut INTO LIFELESS SHRINES which emerged from the crypts in September 2020 and features 13 crushing displays of cavernous doom inspired death metal that really could easily fit into the scene three decades ago. Displaying a classic old school stomp at breakneck speeds, THE GLORIOUS DEAD channels the zeitgeist of classic Grave or Obituary but runs the gamut of Incantation plodding death-doom to the blackened crossover effects of bands like Hypocrisy. Most noticeable however is the band’s fascination with the Finnish blackened death playbook of Convulse and Purtenance along with some Swedish death doom charm a la Runemagick.

While retro death metal is a dime a dozen these days, i’m always willing to explore the endless sea of swarming distorted chugs in order to find the next best thing under the pike and although THE GLORIOUS DEAD doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel with its exquisitely designed tribute to the masters of yore, this powerhouse quartet certainly has done its homework and crafted an excellent slice of quality death metal in the spirit of the classic era without sounding dated. Tracks like “The Ruin Of The Flesh” allow progressive elements to seep in and the band excel at crafting a nice diverse palette of riffing styles and rhythmic plentitude while Humlinski smooths it all out with his consistent guttural growls. Add to that the ugly tone of the album is evoked with the creepy instrumental intro “Sollum Mortis” and the occasional synth extras allow the subdued atmospheric darkness to peek through the din.

While THE GLORIOUS DEAD clearly favors a vintage sound over any sort of explorative measures in the vein of modern pioneers like Blood Incantation, the band pulls it off so well that it’s obvious that these guys’ live, breath and evoke a true passion for the classic death metal sounds of yore. While at 55 minutes, the album may be a tad too long to hold its energetic display of grandmastering bravado, but i can’t honestly say that there isn’t a single track on here that is subpar to any classic death metal album out there as THE GLORIOUS DEAD has meticulously combed the coffins and assimilated every nuance in the book to forge a sharpened sword of piercing retro death metal thus making this one of my favorite death metal picks for 2020 as it has a satisfying re-listening value. While nothing groundbreaking, this one was truly a surprise in its consistency and ability to channel the zeitgeist of yore so clearly.
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