RUDE – Outer Reaches (2021)REVIEW

Borne from primitive ways and aiming to render peak death metal ferality unto crystalline form ever since, Bay Area death metal quartet Rude put in the work for just under a decade before they’d to truly mastered the ways of the ancients. By 2017 they’d achieved an impeccably tempered, but never too polished, beast of iron and after key line-up change wisely took their time regrouping. Today their return acts as smelling salts for we who’d eternally drift away, lamenting the cold nihil that’d resign to this nowadays belief that ‘old school’ death metal forms are doomed to live on as aesthetics for puppets to wield as stylistic implication rather than wholly damning punitive human-craft. While many of their contemporaries from the early 2010’s have resolved to peddle together crude death metal likeness since Rude‘s latest and long-awaited EP, quenches and solidifies their reputation as a pure death metal band delivered without compromise or, even a single iota of flippancy applied to their spark-showering forge. Stargazing with murderous intent, ‘Outer Reaches‘ achieves an impossibly slick bend away from iteration by way of freshly envisioned carnage done the right way, fire-branded riffs spanked with flux and fused into an insane sort of flow we’ve hardly heard since 1993.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve been listening to 80’s Pestilence, 90’s Morbid Angel, and Corpsegrinder-era Monstrosity since I was a kid too, and no doubt these are the altars from which many of Rude‘s most distinctive traits conjure. There is no gold star awarded for picking ’em out of the fray, the fact that they sound like these bands to some degree isn’t and shouldn’t be the major reason a record like ‘Outer Reaches’ holds anyone’s attention and the intensely detailed but easily read songcraft and impressive performances going into these pieces is the deciding factor. Rude‘ve always had a sort of “it” factor of their own which nonetheless still gets constant comparison to Skeletal Remains, each band having been cut from similar cloth featuring some healthy Van Drunen-sized vocals and a couple record run with prized German underground death metal label F.D.A. Records, but I’d argue even their first album (‘Soul Recall‘, 2014) held its own with thrashing pace, apocalyptic fantasy lyrics, and the first of their stunning album covers from Dan Seagrave. Their follow-up (‘Remnants…‘, 2017) was an somewhat underrated point of mastery and I don’t mean just for my own taste, a shot of brutality and signature from a band who’d found their sound and began pushing from riffcraft toward experiential creation, songwriting that was more than muscular exercise and rushes of cool chugs. I mean, there were still rushes of cool chugs all over the place but ‘Remnants…’ was a next level punch of pure death metal that’d not been enough of a weirdo to catch fire. From my point of view Rude haven’t taken a step back from that point in the four years since their last release but instead a couple steps forward into their own groove with ‘Outer Reaches’.

Less isn’t more, more isn’t more, finding one’s own self-directed maturity enough to serve the exact -right- amount ultimately impresses when it comes to death metal, a form of music that never needed progress so much as it needed songwriters and athletically gifted technicians in meaningful collaboration. The implication here is that Rude have worked out an impressive experience here with ‘Outer Reaches’ that may or my not be as intentional as I’ve received it but either way the experience holds strong in mind regardless of approach, the percussive beatings and crooked-crawling of each piece here breathes fire whether I’m needling over every detail or casually headbanging ’til cross-eyed in the car. If you’d picked up Metal Blade‘s ‘Metal Massacre XV‘ compilation earlier this year “Omega” (which is the closing piece on this EP) already gave a strong hint of this next-level ease and tightly realized composition echoed throughout ‘OUter Reaches’.

Shut up for a couple minutes, man. Even ‘Legion’ took a breather once in a while yet when we run into nowadays ‘old school’ death metal which takes strong influence from Dutch and North American death metal in particular there is often a need to keep the ranting quality of the vocals going without purpose or cadence. Rude‘s Yusef Wallace approaches this more like an early Sinister record this time around, often matching his patternation with the more intense blasting sections for effect and leaning back for longer breaks and even a few entirely instrumental tracks (“Outer Reaches”, “Adrift”). Why is this so important? Part of the lasting impact of early 90’s death metal beyond the spectacle of extremity was the attitude, the swagger of bands like Morbid Angel and some of that ‘Blessed are the Sick’ (and ‘Formulas Fatal to the Flesh’) influenced movement seriously highlights ‘Outer Reaches’, featuring long atmospheric lead guitar solos drenched with a clear love of lava where it counts. The only piece here that feels directly pulled from the ‘Remants…’ age is “Astral Cursed Spawn” but solely for its ‘Consuming Impulse’-esque main verses, the blasting changes throughout and breakdown redirect this in the middle of the song and the slick solo that ends the piece distract the ear easily enough. Sure, show up for the riffs (“Calamity From the Sky” is the killer cut here) and get your ass kicked by them, I’d only add that there is some thoughtful girding holding these pieces together that is worth a hundred listens whether you analyze it or not.

Otherwise the whole package is impressive thanks to sharp (but never too clean) production values, a gigantic skull-popping bass guitar sound/performance from Jason Gluck (Limbs), and mood rich science-fiction cover art from Jan Buragay. Rude have found an impressive and inspired path herein that manages learn every lesson and improve upon every flaw of the past, doing so while neither mutilating the vitality of classic death metal nor enhancing it to the point of an unrecognizable greyness. I’ve found ‘Outer Reaches’ to be an infinitely listenable and potent ~23 minute rip back to all the best aspects of Rude‘s unflinching intent, a record that is sure to win over anyone who’d either missed their second full-length or had been lying in wait for a biggest, boldest step into their own skin. A very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (88/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Outer Reaches
LABEL(S):Dawnbreed Records [Cassette, Vinyl, CD]
Caligari Records [Vinyl, CD]
Headsplit Records
RELEASE DATE:September 24th, 2021 [Cassette]
BUY & LISTEN:Dawnbreed Store
GENRE(S):Death Metal

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