Looking at the cover art of Infected Dead’s debut, Archaic Malevolence, their press release and the their song titles, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were about to be blasted by a blunderbuss filled with old-school horror themes and knowing humour wrapped up in a modern technical death exterior. Certainly, when the intro, “Book of Dead Names”, kicks in, all dials are in the red….and we are strapped in and ready to fall in love with Infected Dead!
Unfortunately, first track proper – “Archaic Malevolence” – relies too heavily on blast beats and for all the fancy, fluttering guitar licks, it comes across as bland and straight-laced. So, no love affair so far! Happily, that ain’t all she wrote. Infected Dead quickly divert into an imaginative tour through toiling riffs, languid melodies before resolving into a Michael Amott-style guitar solo that prevents their opening salvo from missing the target completely.
“Resurrectionist” continues in the same vein with melodies periodically hurled into spasmodic blast-outs. Sure, while it certainly isn’t bad, it’s here that the repetitive nature of the vocals begin to irk a little. The guy has a real old skool edge to his voice and while we like that, it’s rhythmically limited and in it’s absence of attention-grabbing hooks, feels pretty basic atop the breakneck bombast.
“Invocation of Unspeakable God” is a big step in the right direction and is certainly our favourite thing on here. It opens with a swaggeringly dramatic beatdown backed by some almost black metal sounding yelps. It’s catchy, groovy, horrific – in short it ticks some of the boxes they lay claim to in their press release. A slower pace really suits Infected Dead and here the vocalist is given sufficient bandwidth to sound truly deranged. It works. We wish they would throw in a few more moments like this one.
As Archaic Malevolence goes on, the band sound progressively more assured. “Forced Existence” is pretty solid too – wearing its Carcass influences on it’s sleeve in places, cutting it’s own detail with some blistering tremelo picking in others.
“Samsara” is the kind of florid, technical technical workout you’d expect from a band who clearly boast a couple of very accomplished guitar players. While it threatens to degenerate into a firestorm of senseless blasting, Infected Dead whip out some more of those groovy half time feel riffs and another (really) great solo, just before we end up resorting to punching our speakers.
Archaic Malevolence was a very polarising death metal record for us, threatening greatness in places, frustratingly staid in others. Our primary concern is that there is no clear sales point here to set them aside from the thousands of other guitar-masterclass death bands.
In truth, we don’t think Infected Dead are an international class, extreme metal band…..well, not yet anyway!
That said, with a focus on songwriting, an avoidance of genre cliches and less insistence on sounding as widdley as Cryptopsy and co. they could evolve into a band with the ability to kick some major balls! 6/10