Exhumed & Gruesome – Twisted Horror (Relapse Records)

Exhumed’s Necroticism-era Carcass worship and Gruesome’s Death deifying goresomeness on one mini-album? It could only go one, gore splattered way…

Twisted Horror sees the US acts at very close to their bloody best, with the juxtaposition of Exhumed’s sick death grind and Gruesome’s homage to the genius of Chuck Schuldiner working perfectly.

This is quick hit, full tilt old school death metal from two of the finest bands in the business, acts who are drenched in the putrid offal of Symphonies of Sickness, Scream Bloody Gore and Horrified, and who mainline the savagery of DM’s late 80s/early 90s heyday to an often devastating effect.

Out of the pair, Exhumed edge it with their three offerings. Dead, Deader, Deadest cleaves flesh with a salvo of barbed riffs and blastbeats, before shifting into a spine splitting mid-section, where Matt Harvey and co. unleash an immense, muscular groove. A close second is Rot Your Brain, a catchy little anti-anthem where warped Steer/Amott-style chord dives and frenzied leads compete for attention, while Buried To Die is a rapid-fire, headlong assault which brandishes murderous fretwork at every turn.

As savage as each song is, the Californians execute their music with real class – and this new salvo even tops much of 2019’s excellent Horror.

Gruesome, meanwhile, mine Leprosy and Spiritual Healing for their inspiration here. And while A Mind Decayed isn’t quite up to the standard of 2018s Spiritual-esque Twisted Prayers, Led Into The Dark sees the quartet expertly employ their trademark Death dynamics… and bring Twister Horror to a pulverising close. It’s an exhilarating track, with each burst of pace pumping the adrenaline into the red.

An Exhumed/Gruesome split makes perfect sense on paper. And thankfully on record, it’s a winning combination.