Exhumed Information by FulciRelease date: July 23, 2021
Label: Time To Kill
If you’re an Italian band and you’re picking out names, it takes some serious guts to go with Fulci. A master of horror, brutality, perseverance and all-out weirdness, Lucio Fulci is a name that carries a lot of weight in some circles – on the other hand, he was mighty prolific so there’s surely plenty to take inspiration from. They paid fine tribute to one of his true classics, the sublime splatterfest that was Zombi 2 (or Zombie Flesh Eaters to much of the world) on their second album, but for number three they’ve gone down an interesting route, adapting his final directorial feature, Voices From Beyond.
At first, the homage is nothing if not blatant. Opener ‘Autopsy’ consists of a mash-up of two Voices From Beyond samples but the clash works, the narration of a post mortem examination rising out of the movie’s childlike, sing-song opening credits theme painting a queasy, disquieting picture. And then it all kicks off…
‘Voices’ does what Fulci do really very well, namely old-school brutal death metal with enough of a clean, modern edge to keep things fresh – think a sludgier, more open-ended Suffocation and you’re more than half-way there. Fiore Stravino is a maestro of the growl, lending plenty of gravel and bile to his utterances while matching Dominico ‘Dome’ Diego’s twisted, infectious riffing. The technicality is downplayed but still impressive and though the segue into sludgier, more atmospheric territory is nothing that will particularly surprise fans of the band, or even anyone who’s gotten into death metal in the past 35 years or so, it hints at something more insidious that doesn’t really come into play until ‘Nightmare’.
Before now, Fulci’s forays into Frizzi-esque synth had largely been handled by guitarist Dome but this time round they have recruited the anonymous atmospheric horror artist TV-Crimes to work their magic, and as the static hiss and punchy syncopated synth buzz of ‘Nightmare’ locks in with Dome’s guitar, the old magic returns. The riffing here is probably the album’s most immediately arresting, switching up slam-oriented chugs, more technical and melodic passages and even the odd Eastern hook, keeping the energy pounding until a well-inserted monastic chant winds it down. The synthwork is largely decorative for the album’s first half, presenting a touch of gothic atmosphere as the songs tail off or serving as an off-kilter warmup for forthcoming brutality, but it doesn’t feel essential, more a fun side-dish for the meat, bones and sinew that make up the main cuts.
But then there’s that second-act twist that comes with any good giallo. Exhumed Information purposefully downplays its proggy, synthesised roots in the album’s first half to allow them to shine in the second. ‘Glass’ is a downbeat, moody composition that distils the tension of 70s John Carpenter and adds it to Goblin’s heavier, bombastic flair, creating a classic but distinctly contemporary sound in the process. It’s gorgeous and strangely ethereal, standing out against the abrupt physicality of their more metal-rooted fare, and when thinking about it in terms of Lucio Fulci’s dreamlike approach to gore and misery, it feels like a real tribute.
Sure, it seems like TV-Crimes is stealing the show, and the broad soundscapes of ‘Child’ don’t really do much to change opinions on that, but the final one-two of ‘Fantasma’ and ‘Cemetery’ deliver a more collaborative approach that works uncannily well. Both instrumental pieces have a real sense of presence, Dome’s cleanly-picked melodies lending things a melancholy and contemplative air, and it’s enough to serve as a fitting end-credits conclusion for the album as a whole. It’s a triumph for those who love their death metal dark, gritty and vicious, and also for vintage horror movie aficionados. And if you like both? Then yeah, you might want to give this a spin.