Mickey Mouse. Universal Studios. The Everglades. It’s a safe bet that among the first things that come to mind when everyday folk think about Florida, Death Metal wouldn’t even be as high on the list as some of those often unbelievable “Florida Man…” headlines. However, to a certain breed of humans, that particular southeastern state has been a location of serious interest since Death released their debut album back in 1987.
A vibrant scene which gave us names like Morbid Angel, Obituary, Massacre and Deicide, as well as being famously represented by relocated New Yorkers Cannibal Corpse in Jim Carrey comedy vehicle, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Floridian Death Metal may have peaked during the nineties but foul things still remain afoot to this very day.
Only their third full length studio release in twelve years, Orlando’s Druid Lord can hardly be called prolific, but latest (grotesque) offering Relics of the Dead (Hells Headbangers) is certainly their most accomplished putrefying slab of doom / death to date. Oozing malignantly from the speakers, the atmospheric low budget horror film mellotron which opens the title track creeps from the shadows before the sludgy, moss filled riffs begin. A crawling monstrosity clothed in tattered old school death metal rags, the guitars of Chris Wicklein and Pete Slate pierce like cold steel in moonlight while bassist/vocalist Tony Blak slurps and rasps like the ravenous undead.
‘Thirteen Days of Death’ begins appropriately enough like a funeral dirge, the song lurching slowly out of the murk before attacking with melodic solos, doomy passages encrusted with mud and filth, and feral bursts of speed from drummer Elden Santos. The savage mid-paced groove of ‘Mangled as the Hideous Feed’ transforms into another misshapen display of funereal dread before the band take a breather with the sinister acoustic interlude of ‘Nightside Conjuring’.
The slow grind of ‘Immolated Into Ashes’ gives way another surge of speed and throbbing brutality and you can practically smell the fetid decay in the outstanding ‘Festering Tombs’. Not for the first time, a wholly unsurprising but welcome Black Sabbath vibe rears its head on ‘Monarch Macabre’, another song with a melodic guitar solo that penetrates the lurking doom with surgical precision before the mellotron returns with the moody instrumental outro of ‘Ethereal Decay’.
With the emphasis leaning more towards Doom than brutally fast Death Metal, Relics of the Dead often concentrates on the slow build of atmosphere. But whenever another frenzy of double-kick aggression is eventually unleashed, it’s an exhilaratingly violent experience and one well worth digging up.
Buy the album here: https://druid-lord.bandcamp.com/album/relics-of-the-dead
8 / 10