Five years since the release of his last full-length, Epicedia, legendary artist and the musician behind the Death Metal project Fetid Zombie, Mark Riddick, returns with his latest EP, Transmutations, and like his artwork, it is a unique and individual beast and remarkably different to its predecessors.
Fetid Zombie – Transmutations (Transcending Obscurity Records)
Release Date: 30 July 2021
Words: Jools Green
The thing I like about Transmutations is the far outside of the box but careful thinking that has gone into the composition, the raw brutality of Epicedia still echoes through it, but this time there is an extra edge. The sound is an unpredictable yet skilful meld of atmospheric Death Metal with Heavy Metal and Rock elements thrown into the mix.
Mark, covering rhythm guitar, bass, synth and effects, is once again joined by session musicians Ralf Hauber (Heads For The Dead, Revel In Flesh) on vocals, Josh Fleischer (Svierg) on rhythm guitar, Jamie Whyte (Beyond Mortal Dreams) and Toby Knapp (Affliktor, Waxen) both on lead guitar. With the addition of Chris Monroy (Skeletal Remains) and Clare Webster (Yylva) on additional vocals along with James Malone (Arsis) on additional lead guitar, synth and Malcolm Pugh (Inferi) also on lead guitar, adding more than an extra dimension to the sound.
I can imagine a few old school stalwarts scratching their heads over the audacious nature of this album but for me, what it does express, is a well thought out desire to be uniquely individual, with the bonus of being a very accessible, very listenable sound.
As EP’s go, duration wise, it’s no lightweight either, encompassing six tracks that span a generous thirty-five minutes. It is filled with extreme contrasts that, despite their seeming disparity, sit so well together.
Opening on Chrysopoeia, a myriad of growling vocals, searing angular Death Metal riffs, haunting melodies and a psychedelic element all over a deceptively complex undercurrent of drum work with a direction that flits and changes in a blink. A mesmerisingly good piece of music.
Three tracks of this release utterly blew me away. Conscious Rot, where the chugging riffs are broken up with diabolically sinister “tubular bells”, alongside a mournful melody, equally mournful leads and a meld of twin vocals. There is a blackened hiss and a deathly growl, with the sound becoming dark and driving to the close.
Beyond Andromeda, a hauntingly melodic piece with those wonderfully expressive twin voices again and superb soaring leadwork and Deep In The Catacombs, a brutally unnerving composition that is complex with an unrelenting undercurrent of drum work and more squealing and soaring leads.
The other two tracks also merit a mention. Dreamless Sleep Awaits, with female vocals which make a startling contrast against the deep growls and tortured screams, with searing leadwork over a haunting melody to close. Breath Of Thanatos, again haunting with soaring female vocals, which serve again to emphasise the more brutal aspects, growls and deranged screams and the dark sinister riffing as the track progresses. The mood changes with remarkably uplifting leadwork soaring out of the second half in startling contrast.
Having received a release in cassette format last year via Morbid Visions Music, Transmutations is now set for the huge launch it deserves, thanks to Transcending Obscurity Records.
It will be available as a digipak CD, limited edition box set CD or digital offering and later this year, on 31 October, as a limited-edition vinyl box set and as three different, limited-edition, coloured vinyl. Visit fetidzombiedm.bandcamp.com/ for more details.