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13 Frightened Souls (1993)

Deceased was formed in the mid-80s, releasing a number of demos, along with an E.P. and a full-length, by early 1992. It was at this point that they entered the studio to create one of their very best recordings, the 13 Frightened Souls E.P. Their style is very much rooted in old school Death/Thrash, maintaining the early feeling of death metal as opposed to blending into the crowd and going for the same boring sound that everyone began aiming for by this time. Deceased was a band that I didn't get to hear until quite a while after I should have; furthermore, I was finally exposed to this E.P. only recently. On one hand, I wonder how I managed to miss this so long ago, yet I guess it's better to have things to explore later on as well.

This E.P. bursts right out of the gate, with "The 13 Frightened Souls". The sound is somewhat dirty, still keeping a strong 80s thrash metal vibe. It's so refreshing to hear something from this period that wasn't recorded in Tampa. Musically, this is quite powerful. There's a lot of feeling here, and this is most evident in the lead solos and the vocals. The tempo is dynamic enough, with some old school drum beats tossed in, but the real highlight has to be the deathlike vocals of King Fowley. Instead of trying to sound as deep and inaudible as possible, he has a very suitable voice for death metal. It's the sound of a corpse that has escaped from his grave, possessed and utterly consumed by madness.

"Robotic Village" is another fairly short song, clocking in around three minutes. There's some feedback in the beginning, leading into very intense riffs, joined by blasting drums. The feeling is very frenzied. There are many different riffs and the pace changes a lot, for such a short song. Near the middle, there's some bass solo that takes us into a quieter part that has a somber feeling and some strange effect on the vocals. The desperation in this voice has to be one of the single most appealing qualities of the band. Another standard Chris Barnes imitator would have ruined this, certainly. The song ends with a violent, mid-paced riff that comes to an abrupt stop.

The next song is "Voivod" which is, of course, a cover song from the band of the same name. It maintains the intensity and feeling of the original, while also fitting in very well with the other songs on here.

"Planet Graveyard" is one of the longer songs on here, nearing the five minute mark. It starts out slower that the previous tracks, having a slightly dark and morose feeling. After about a minute, the speed picks up. As with the rest of the material, there is nothing static about this. The song is very dynamic, consisting of different tempos and enough riffs to keep your mind involved in what's going on. The latter section of the song sounds like something that could have been recorded nearly a decade prior to this. It's this old school feeling that I most appreciate with this band. This song ends with some hellish feedback that leads into the next track.

The final song on this E.P. is also the climax of the recording. "Nuclear Exorcist" erupts with a violent flurry of blistering riffs and intense drumming, before traveling into some dark valley as the feeling of the song becomes almost melancholic. The clean guitar melody is accentuated with a soulful lead solo in the distance, as King Fowley speaks of doom and desolation. The screams on this song are, by far, the best. This really embodies the essence of what death metal should be about; it is packed with feeling, as opposed to becoming so empty and generic. Too many bands had gone that route, by 1993. In Deceased, we see the old school spirit still present. As the song progresses, the slower riffs possess the bodies of the dead as they burst through their coffins and crawl up through the moist soil, grinning as they emerge from their graves, prepared to annihilate the world of the living. As the song fades out, one does not get the feeling of an ending; rather, it seems as if it has only just begun...
(8 Dec. 2009)

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