Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love, stuff that’s essential listening for students of extreme metal that you may not have ever heard of. Stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for. This week, after months of quasi-industrial and American NWOBHM acts, we’re covering an honest-to-badness death metal record: Korpse’s Pull the Flood (Candlelight).
Now, I gotta be honest here: I’m not so big a fan of brutal death metal. Sure, I appreciate the contributions that Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Suffocation, et al. have made to our favorite genre, but when I sit down for my own personal listening time, I want something with a bit more… flavor. Melody, genre hybridization, female vocalist, something. I’m more likely to reach for In Flames, Arch Enemy, or Children of Bodom (i.e., the stuff that purists would describe as thrash or power metal). But you know what? I do dig the weird bastard stepchild of brutal death metal, death ‘n roll. People regard Entombed’s Wolverine Blues as a classic for a reason. There’s just something about that rock ‘n roll groove that complements hammer smashed faces.
Enter Korpse, based out of the unlikely locale of Aberdeen, Scotland. To be fair, Scotland does have a lot in common with Sweden and Florida – crappy weather, nothing to do, and lots of nature, although instead of forests and swamps, Scotland has sheep. Unfortunately, Scotland didn’t have a huge metal scene – unless you count Nazareth, I guess. That actually worked out for these guys creatively, if not commercially. No real scene to glom onto and rip off. Instead, they came up with their own beast on 1994’s Pull the Flood. A little bit of Nirvana 2002, a little bit of Entombed, but ultimately their own style.
I mean, you wouldn’t mistake “Rusted” for anything but death metal, from the sepulchral grunting to the down tuned chug, but less than 20 seconds in we get some prime whammy bar action. “The Smell of Broken Glass” has a little bit of funk rock going on, bass you can actually hear, and some post-Pepper Corrosion of Conformity grooviness. And some porn samples. “3” is, indeed, the third track, and that offers some nice shred and gallop. “Illegal Musik” goes a little choppy with the riffs, the title track rides the effects pedal train to hell, “X” features some creepy segues, “Stomp-Neg” has a solo that would be more at home on an Earthless jam, and “From the Heart” has some more Southern discomfort and a weird hidden tape loop piece at the end. So, you know, pretty impressive considering all the death metal bands that didn’t bother trying anything new that year.
Of course, considering what column I’m writing about this for, you can pretty much guess that they faded into obscurity. They put out one more record, 1996’s excellent, sludgy Revirgin, and despite rumors of recording with Chris Reifert, that was pretty much it. However, it’s not too late to dig up this kadaver. Korpse really brought some new ideas to the table in 1994, paving the way for burly dudes everywhere who like getting their rock ‘n roll in their death metal. Maybe when the latest cycle of death metal revivalists evolves, they can start ripping these guys off instead of Dismember.