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Decomposed - Hope Finally Died...


by Matt Hensch

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Nestled somewhere within the catacombs of metal groups left to dust rests the deceased (and, in this context, appropriately named) Decomposed. Not much of a splash was made by the English doom/death metal band during their short run, which included a few demos, an EP, and a full-length album. "Hope Finally Diedů," the aforementioned full-length, has attained the status of a cult classic since its release in 1993. The album is far from trailblazing in any respect, and typically sounds substandard next to the classic records hailing from this sonic amalgamation of doom metal and death metal. Decomposed, however, shows that it had its fair share of brilliant moments, which sprout from the dreary soil like skeletal hands that may have had a chance to grab the living had they not been buried by an untimely suicide.

The thing to admire most here is how well Decomposed represents their achieved sound. The slow-roasting doom parts are melancholic and stomp with authority, while the death metal bits throw out blast beats and beastly riffing without hitting any bumps. Overall, the formula comes out as a feasible cut of doom/death metal. Songs like "Inscriptions" switch back and forth from old school death metal parts to the doom metal template, often times teetering on the cusp of each gracefully. The poignant lead guitar work serves to make the connection between doom and death metal well-founded, frequently scraping the upper limits of doom/death metal expectancies. Harry Armstrong, the dude who would later do stuff like End of Level Boss, has an excellent guttural performance handling the lyrics of grief. Those deep growls work well in both settings, vicious as they are.

Other than the basics, "Hope Finally Diedů" rocks a nifty atmosphere of feeling pleasantly aboriginal. The only issue here is how insubstantial it all resonates stacked up against the record's finest moments. Few bits of Decomposed's efforts show glimmers of mastery despite the whole album sounding objectively above-average. It's one of those records that fail to become anything more than the total sum of parts, although there is much to admire otherwise. The production and style reek of old-fashioned putrefaction notched up to the doomy plodding and the death metal carnage, of which there is plenty. Again, this isn't bad, but it is standard; this isn't on the level of the sub-genre's masterpieces.

The one song that manages to bring the best of this style to a boil is "At Rest," which has the gloomy atmosphere finding a perfect balance between doom and death. But there are signs of slight innate weaknesses beyond the anomaly: the shift from doom to death is often choppy, the style is by the numbers, and it's mostly just the bare bones of what this sound is capable of. Thankfully, the former members of Decomposed put the dirt over the corpse and have yet to unearth what is now probably, uh, putrefied beyond recognition. The fact that they haven't ruined the album's small, albeit substantial reputation adds another layer of gangrene to "Hope Finally Diedů" that deserves admiration.

Decomposed - Hope Finally Died...
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