Hall of Fame Countdown: Deceased’s “Fearless Undead Machines”

Virginia metal lifers Deceased came out of their shell a bit late: it wasn’t until their third album, 1997’s mighty Fearless Undead Machines, that the band’s personality really shone through. With Fearless, a 68-minute kinda-concept album based around Night of the Living Dead, the band took their death metal roots and added tons of trad metal fire and glory to their Venom-influenced death/thrash, creating songs that stretched out for lengths that could be trying but instead are exhilarating, just one of the album’s many small joys.

We inducted Fearless Undead Machines into our Hall of Fame in our April 2012 issue (grab a copy here); today, to celebrate the recent announcement of new Deceased material, we look back and rank the songs from worst to best.

11. Contamination

Always loved how the band followed up the epic, sprawling album opener with “Contamination,” a 2:13 piece consisting of spoken word and quiet guitar work. Definitely a “you’re listening to a concept album” kinda “song,” but still so much fun. Barely a song though, so it takes up residence here at the bottom end.

10. From the Ground they Came

These shorter mood pieces actually work really well in the context of the album, Deceased laying down killer, lengthy death/trad metal tunes then letting us all breathe a bit with these pieces, this one in particular being a triumphant, slow-burn instrumental that shows just how much the band was growing when it came to songwriting skills.

9. The Psychic

As the album starts to end, “The Psychic” comes in as track 10 of 11, the band going strong with their flair for drama and storytelling, end result somewhere between a mosh pit and a B flick at a drive in. “The Psychic” has some great guitar work (seriously, I can’t stress this enough: the guitar work on this album rules), and is written superbly. No complaints, although it doesn’t stick in the noggin as much as some of the songs on the first half of Fearless do.

8. Destiny

I do hold hard to the belief that Fearless could have been 20 minutes shorter for maximum impact, but I do appreciate an album of such cinematic proportions taking some time to get the point across. The album closes off with “Destiny,” by which point the listener is beaten and bruised, the band doing in this song’s 9:45 more or less what they’ve been doing for the past hour, although the slow half-time stomper part is awesome, and the guitar solo rules, as always.

7. Unhuman Drama

This one got’s a tough spot: track 9 of 11 on a lengthy, somewhat draining (in a good way, mind you) album. But “Unhuman Drama” rises to the challenge, Deceased taking their songwriting structure but slowing it all down a bit, the end result being almost disorienting for those who got nice and cozy with the songs up to this point. Also, let’s give a shout-out to King Fowley here for the sheer quantity of lyrics dude had to remember for this album. That alone couldn’t have been easy.

6. Beyond Science

This fast ‘n’ dirty 4:55 thrasher kicks off the final third of the album in style; on Fearless, the band either delivered longer, epic songs or shorter, more concise songs, and “Beyond Science” sums up what the latter is capable of quite well. Love the vocal lines (a very strong point for Deceased from this album to this day), and, as always, great guitar work and melodies for miles.

5. Night of the Deceased

Another long one on an album full of them, this one clocking in at 7:53, the band just absolutely going for it throughout this cool, speedy, simple death/thrash rocker. It’s a great tune, although it suffers a bit from not having as much of a unique identity as the songs that came before it. Still, when it’s spinning, it’s almost hard to imagine music cooler than this. Also, the quick triumphant trad-metal part that the band launches into, then launches out of just as quick, as the end nears totally rules.

4. Mysterious Research

Songs like this are why I love Deceased. Song titles like that, really, are why I love Deceased. You know you’re in for a fun, epic, spooky, slightly campy good time, and “Mysterious Research” delivers, using its 7:59 to take you to all those places, in due time. Drummer/vocalist King Fowley lays down one of his great vocal performances here, establishing himself very firmly as one of the great metal storytellers of all time. (Also, I don’t think it’s said enough: can we give this guy some more props for handing both drum and vocal duties in Deceased, please?)

3. Graphic Repulsion

Oh, man, I love that opening riff, and the relatively concise 5:03 runtime combined with the bpm outta the gates just makes me lose my mind every time this one starts. Compared to some other songs here, this one doesn’t reach as far, preferring to thrash quick and hard as opposed to sprawling and epic. And it totally works, especially in its mid-album placement. A great song.

2. Fearless Undead Machines

Yeah, you just kinda know the title track is going to rule here, clocking in at an ambitious 7:50, placed as track three after a killer opener and a quiet interlude piece. This song has riffs for miles, a great mid-section, then a hysterical race to the finish line before slowing it down a bit for the final minute. In other words, the song takes the listener places, and those places are very good places to be. Need more convincing? Check the riff from 6:56 to 7:29. Glorious. Love the sudden-death ending, too.

1. The Silent Creature

“It has been established…” With those classic four words being sampled, this massive album and epic song kick off, Deceased opening up their third album with an 8:40 song that pretty firmly establishes that the band have emerged from the death metal murk and found their personality, galloping tempo and soaring solos searing the point home. This song is like Maiden on death metal, but done to complete perfection, without any of the exhaustion such formulas usually bring. They didn’t know it at the time, but Deceased were creating a classic with “The Silent Creature.”