Reviewed By Simon Crawley
Published 14 December, 2016
An album title like Epicedia comes across as being almost tongue in cheek, but then there is always the appropriate sense of stating the obvious that also works. Go ahead and spin this, the creation of renowned metal personality Mark Riddick. His illustrations and graphics have been around since the early 1990s and his creative skills acquired by numerous death and black metal acts. Fetid Zombie is Riddick’s putrid talents manifested into music; beastly rhythm and wicked death-growl vocals all wrapped in an old school death metal sound with a cold stone wall production. All in all, Epicedia is a refreshing metal album that is raw, sincere, and heavy as hell.
Riddick is a pretty big deal in heavy metal circles, having created artwork for big names like The Black Dahlia Murder and Carnifex (oh, and for Justin Bieber and his Purpose tour). His music, on the other hand, is so underground and authentically crafted that it shifts his creative talents into a different league - and not purely based on a qualitative level. The unrefined way in which this brand of old school death metal is pieced and crudely stitched together, layer upon layer, defies all the ways in which alternative and experimental music is put out these days. Epicedia is belched up from some dark and dank underworld with a thick mist set to devour all light and hope.
With four songs and each spanning close to ten minutes in length, Riddick collaborated with some heavy-hitting names in the creation of Fetid Zombie’s first real studio album. Each of the tracks here, apart from being long, reveals good originality and creativity with many a catchy riff and a host of guest guitar solos oozing plenty of class. There is a lot of death metal at play here, with influences of that old school Sabbath and even Sepultura sound and rhythm. Riddick’s very distinctive vocals add an interesting dimension to all of this as they are thick and deep whilst so much of the album’s instrumentals are very lively and organic.
The opener “Lowered Beneath” is a strong one. It is centred less on riffs and pulverising heaviness and more on guitar melodies and tempo. “Devour the Virtuous” which follows, however, is tantalisingly built around riffs and rolling drums. “Devour the Innocent” is epic death metal in all its glory. From the dark opening with church bells, the devastating change-ups in tempo, the intricate guitar work and right the way through to the haunting synthesiser sounds; this is eight and a half minutes of brilliant death metal with the final three minutes arguably the most glorious! “If the Dead Could Speak” is very memorable and is probably built around more hooks than the other tracks, but is not as complex. At nearly ten and a half minutes, it perhaps could be trimmed of some excess fat but this is not a game changer by any means.
With a string of releases to his name, Fetid Zombie is Riddick’s finest moment to date. With 2016 drawing to a close, Epicedia will definitely go down as one the most pleasing surprises of the year.
Transcending Obscurity Records