I recently came across the album “The Coming Bloodbath” by Zombie Death Stench (ZDS). Just two minutes in and I was convinced that I’d stumbled upon an osdm neo-classic. I mean, these guys take ferocious to the next level, with their insane drumming, savage guitaring and deranged vocals set offs by bloodcurdling growls.
The first track, ‘Lost Transmission‘ at 1:26, is a tight package of eerie horror, like a Zombie attack in outer space. ‘Demonic Possession’ combines pounding percussion with muted choral wailing to produce the perfect backdrop for the demented lyric delivery, reminiscent of Exhumed (think ‘Naked, Screaming and Covered in Blood’). The title track is mind-bendingly disgusting in its use of revulsive, growl-puke vocals, tortured bass and relentless drums.
Other outstanding tracks from this 2013 album include ‘Chemical 13‘ – futuristic sci-fi sounds blend with horror movie audio to create a sickening doom that is exploded at 2:43 by maniacal riffing like NASCAR on steroids, ‘Sincrypt‘ – a diabolically brilliant track that evokes the very taste of evil with its menacing use of piano chords, brass gong sounds and guitar distortion, and of course, ‘10,000 Mutants’ – its infernal riffing vying with dual-vocal snarling and hissing creates unprecedented vileness.
Digging deeper into ZDS’ discography, I came across a couple of earlier albums. Just shy of 45 minutes (44:58), the 2008 album “Here I Die… zombified” is a gruesome feast whose gory highlights include ‘March Of The Dead’, ‘Who Goes There?’ as well as the title track itself. Of course, there’s a sense of rawness, an experimental sound characteristic of a band’s early years that shows through in some of the tracks. Still, the moody, synth-driven ‘Quietus‘, furiously paced ‘Death 1’ (180 bpm), ‘Carrion‘ with a bizarre, other-worldly vibe and the hard rock-infused ‘End Credits’ don’t lack for elements of the macabre and the morbid, despite their offbeat sound.
Interspersed with these are tracks which are hardcore osdm. With its ominous movie soundtrack opening (“This is not a drill… we’re under attack”), ‘March Of The Dead‘ intensifies its gut-clenching grip with its intense, jackhammer percussion and growling guitar riffs. ‘Who Goes There?‘ features a backdrop of sinister melodic notes that create a sepulchral mood against which the guttural vocals create a jagged, hacksaw rhythm, like an autopsy performed by a crazed succubus.
The atmospheric opening of ‘Here I Die… zombified‘, replete with thunderstorm and tolling church bell sounds sets the stage for the creepy revulsion of a zombie preying on kith and kin (sister, father and mother, too); the abrupt pace change at 2:22 switches up the track to utter mayhem – demented riffs, snarling vocals and mad drumming building up to a fitting churchyard crescendo. A standout track that embodies the slower-paced gloom of masters of the craft such as Katatonia and Morbid Angel is ‘The Fog’, with its rolling percussion and heavy, centerstage bass.
ZDS’ 2009 album “The Redeadening” is pure dystopian delight that uses musical innovation to evoke the grim horrors of death. Particularly enjoyable are ‘Ally of Apocalypse‘ that sounds like a headlong rush towards doom, with its orchestral ascent, frenetic drumbeat and fevered growling, ‘Shoot ‘Em In The Head’, a “kill or be killed” acoustic orgy of destruction and ‘ZombieMancer‘ in which somber organ, thrash vocals and rock n’ roll guitaring combine in a ‘Child’s Play‘ (the 1988 horror flick) meets ‘Guitar Hero‘ fusion that should be jarring, but is strangely attractive in a ‘House of Horrors’ way.
Tracks like ‘The Redeadening’ (title track), ‘Dead In The Water’, ‘Nowhere To Run’ and ‘BioChemaKiller’ are straightforward death metal headbangers, while ‘Our Final Breath‘ offers an eerily immersive experience with its 3D growl-whispering and funky sound-effects and ‘Flesh Sculptor’ manages to chill you to your bones on hearing the outstandingly deadly vocal delivery of lyrics like, “we’ll destroy you”. The masterpiece of the whole album is ‘The Undeadening‘, a truly melodic composition that vividly captures the spine-chilling nature of approaching death without the usuall fallback of intense drumming or frantic guitaring.
Now that I’d listened to three of their albums, I was pretty sure that ZDS had no surprises left for me, but their most recent album, “Infected” (2015) proved me wrong. Right off the bat, it was clear that this album was inspired in equal parts by death metal classics, grindcore and the world of gaming. Tracks like ‘Warbeast‘, ‘Infected’ (the title track), ‘Boneless Grave’ and ‘All Hail The Great Satan‘ are unadulterated neck-wrecking death metal reminiscent of the best of Bolt Thrower and Entombed. Others, like ‘Godless Dawn’ and ‘Lords Of The Undead‘ reveal a clear punk influence in their grindcore-ish intensity (think ‘Contagion’ by Napalm Death and ‘Loathsome’ by Pig Destroyer).
Notwithstanding these dazzling nods to the metal classics, though, it was two of the other tracks that really got my attention: One was ‘A Night To Dismember‘, a mind-blowing thrash track which boasts near-Megadeth virtuosity (I’m reminded of ‘Holy Wars’). The other, ‘The Ancient Tongue‘ is a gem of understated malevolence with the potential to create a full-body shudder if you really let it get under your skin, as powerful as the incomprehensible menace of alien tongues in the sci-fi masterpiece, ‘Dune’.
With so much talent, it came as a bummer to learn that ZDS are no longer active on the metal scene, but hearing it from the horse’s mouth (in this case, from their lead guitarist, Jason Rossetti) made it credible, rather than a publicity stunt a la Witchrot. Like the rest of their fan horde, I’ve got ZDS down on my permanent playlist, and am looking forward to their re-emergence, because, if you ask me, any time is a great time for a new death metal resurgence.