Never to rise again. — The more you look at every bit of fan collected trivia over the years, every based perspective from those involved, and gauge the sum of extant interviews from surviving members/ex-members from the early 90’s ’til today the greater takeaway from Massacre, beyond the fantastic Earache-scrapped ‘comeback’ demo circa 1990 ‘Second Coming‘, is that each release from that point on was more-or-less for the sake of opportunism, cashing in on a thing which others identified as valuable for its early stake in Florida death metal inclusion. While I appreciate ‘From Beyond‘ as a document of 80’s death metal with a bit of circa ’90 ass-wiping in terms of clarity and precision there isn’t any good reason to consider anything that came next essential. Every attempt to recreate the magic of those old ways hadn’t come naturally to anyone involved, folks weren’t credited properly, egoism was obviously a factor, and to make matters worse each facsimile line-up couldn’t measure up to songs that were largely written by goddamned teenagers in the mid-80’s. Why keep going? The sense that there was some manner of unfinished business but never a dedicated creative force and talented enough crew behind the idea couldn’t be motivation enough to drag a dead horse along for thirty years. Anyhow, we’re here to highlight another poor choice from that camp which has ultimately outshined decades of efforts to make amends for missed opportunities with actual quality death metal shit.
Florida-based thrashing death metal crew Inhuman Condition were basically an abortion, or, emergency caesarian section from a pair of ghostwriters, session (and touring) musicians writing a ‘return to form’ record for Kam Lee after he’d secured the legal rights to the Massacre name. I don’t know what’d happened or why they decided to strike out on their own, but it was a bit of a surprise stunner that the two guys from The Absence, Goregäng, et al. had put together a proper, tightly performed all-pro late 80’s/early 90’s death metal album that’d invoked the thrasher-built Florida sound with some decent precision. Of course the album that soon became ‘Rat God‘ (2021) was a nostalgic recreation and intended as such from the start, we should rightfully log the purpose of the project into the membrane as a Gruesome sort of act with a clear fondness for that particular sound, but it counts for something that they’d captured the rhythmic language of the Rick Rozz writ and Walter Trachsler (Rotting Corpse) refined riffs on ‘From Beyond‘ while bringing some infectious energy to that sound with clear nods to ‘Leprosy‘ and ‘Slowly We Rot‘. I dunno if these guys can be even remotely considered die-hard late 80’s death/thrash metal fans but they found the right algorithm on that debut and it didn’t sound like the hot sack of sun-melted trash most of the greater enduring fandom for this type of music would’ve expected (see: ‘Resurgence‘.
These guys are pros, for better or worse. — Inhuman Condition got the logo right, slapped a Repka-esque cover on it, roped in Terry Butler (Obituary, ex-Six Feet Under) for a couple of albums/tours now and did a fine job invoking the fact that this was intended to be a Massacre album and people definitely -got- it right away. Though I was conflicted on what I should think of ‘Rat God‘ when I’d reviewed it there’d be no denying that it was heavy, memorable, and called back directly to the sort of songwriting that’d resulted when heavy/thrash metal kids began to write catchy, clever death metal songs in the mid-to-late 80’s. Of course it was revisionist, slicker than even the most sterile early Vader production, and tightly performed enough to whip a fart into a kettle whistle but the truth is we rarely get such a thing without a thousand modern metal cash-in caveats, pandering nonsense and flavor of the month mosh metal slobbercraft all over it. That debut wasn’t such a major deal in the grand scheme of things but it was memorable for the sake of doing something right which various ‘legacy’ artists had fumbled with for decades.
If that wasn’t impressive enough the Kling/Nordberg equation were not only doing Florida death metal one of many “right” ways but, man they were making it look easy in the sense that they’d written another mini LPs worth of songs in overflow of the sessions for that first album, all of which appear to have made it onto this follow-up, ‘Fearsick‘. Four more singles and exactly thirteen months later the déjà vu is probably too hot for my own taste to be as impressed and the songwriting is generally not as inspired but, overall they’ve iterated in a very direct way delivering an equal enough partner to ‘Rat God‘. Some of the newer songs are a bit more loose in their movement, mulling over easier to read grooves rather than thrash metal stomps and the riffs come less frequently as a result; This easier slung shouldering of riff moves us away from the goal of one-upping everything that came after ‘From Beyond‘, or, replicating that magic in any sense and closer to the generica of “Bro, ‘member the early 90’s?” death metal but we’re not necessarily hitting an unabashed point of mediocrity yet.
You’ve already heard the first ~half of ‘Fearsick‘ if you’ve been following the promotional singles in the roll-up to release with “The Mold Testament” likely making the most worthy first impression by way of its strong ‘death metal by numbers’ pacing and the head-bobbing groove of the verse riffs, though the psychotically charged energetic push of “Recycled Hate” might’ve been all you’d needed to gear up on the ‘old school’ rush one could expect from iteration in Inhuman Condition‘s realm. From my point of view these two songs had been clear enough sign that they wouldn’t dare stray from the original product, that consistency is key for this sort of group to hold momentum with and they’re not going to touch the formula something fierce just yet. In fact anything done out of the ordinary here proves somewhat grating to start, such as the extended growls or screams which feature in those first four songs intermittently, wherein rigidity of forms proves to be the smart way to go however limiting it might seem from the outside looking in.
The incensed, angry front of the band lingers in terms of about half of the songs detailing a putrid enemy, a zeitgeist or con artist that gets an angst-ridden tongue lashing (“King Con”, “Fencewalker”) or becomes embodied by the lyricist (“Wound Collector”) but most of the album shows movement away from personal conflicts with bad faith actors (as we’d found on ‘Rat God‘) to a mix of surreal visualizations and realms of various torments. It changes the tone of Inhuman Condition‘s own footprint but, not drastically. Though the lyrics aren’t particularly memorable either way the best parts of ‘Fearsick‘ work out a combination of expected subject matter, catchy enough momentum and familiar references. As we lean into the second half of the album “Hellucid” provides the requisite hit of early Obituary-esque movement on the running order, “Wound Collector” shakes loose the ‘Leprosy‘ riff sack a bit within its speedier verses and of course “Fearwalker” sounds like a late album cut from ‘The Ultimate Incantation‘ here and there.
Reflecting upon what is old, what is new and who this album is aiming for — whichever pieces were pulled from the leftovers of the previous album and/or written anew won’t be immediately obvious. I’d appreciated that they’d made this follow-up feel more like a companion than a successor in that regard and the greater tweak of it all hasn’t been drastic or calculated beyond the original goal of “write a nowadays but retro-Massacre record”. At this point “we” surely get it, we’ve gotten the whole fired-up rip away from penning a revival and have been served two pretty solid ‘old school’ Florida death metal records with strong thrash metal influenced riffing… So, where does it need to go from here? Does it need to go anywhere? From my point of view they’d more-or-less made good on their commissioned “job” with the first album and overstated on this second one, though in an equally “fun” and respectful way. If the core purpose of Inhuman Condition ends up being a referential celebration of the past ad infinitum, I feel like it is all diminishing returns from here on out and at the risk of cranking out records in service to (or, on the dirty wings of) someone else’s legacy already proven almost entirely false. A moderately high recommendation.
|RELEASE DATE:||July 15th, 2022|
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