Release DetailsLABEL Razorback
RELEASED ON 7/13/2004
The House That Dead Built
posted on 3/2005 By:
Hailing from Oregon, home to a bustling extreme metal scene, Splatterhouse have unleashed a brand new monstrosity upon the unsuspecting populace. The House That Dead Built successfully breeds sick goregrind with brutal, downtuned death metal, and I’ve been enjoying their new concoction quite a bit. The band seems competent technically, and are able to pull off fast-paced thrashy riffs which resemble some of Impaled’s more recent work. However, as noted, The House That Dead Built is riddled with crushing grooves not unlike those that Devourment have been known to unleash upon us. The vocals seem to have gotten a bit lost in the mix, though I can hear that a Carcass-style two vocalist approach is utilized. Though I suspect the drummer to be perfectly able, the production has caused his work to sound a bit sloppy, with his blasts either blending together or becoming almost entirely buried by the other instruments.
One thing that threw me off on my first listen to this disc was that it seems a bit uneven: the first two tracks, “Baptizing the Dead,” and “Confessions of a Grave Robber,” have an almost dirge-like quality to them, sounding rather crude and atmospheric and employing an almost constant low end drone. Following these two tracks, however, is an unremitting thrash-grind onslaught which caught me by surprise. Surfacing often are the galloping grind riffs popularized by the already mentioned Impaled. I felt the need to headbang frantically, and as a result, my headphones fell off. This was but a minor setback; I wrenched the offending ’phones back onto my ears, and continued listening. I was rewarded with an eruption of brutal grind entitled “Warmest Place to Hide,” and I’m sure that this track would have made Spanish nuts Haemorrhage proud. Eventually, Splatterhouse use up whatever fuels their infernal machine, and the final number, “The Hillside Stranglers” (which I don’t believe bears any relation to the Macabre track by the same name), is clearly an instance of Splatterhouse running out of steam, desperately trying to cross the finish line but being held back by pure exhaustion. Nevertheless, it was fun while it lasted.
My main gripe about The House That Dead Built is that it suffers from an even worse disease than the one which turns unsuspecting fellows into the walking dead. I am referring, of course, to the bad production virus which has stricken the goregrind community as of late. Because the band recorded their album in the basement of the infamous house in which they dwell, this long player sounds compressed and muffled. When I was listening to The House That Dead Built at my computer, I didn’t notice any problems, but when I gave the disc a spin in my stereo, the recording quality came up short. I understand that many bands go for a muffled, low pitched sound for atmospheric purposes, both in grind and black metal. But Splatterhouse really deserve better, and could easily contend with genre leaders like Impaled and Exhumed if they were to embrace better production values.
The House That Dead Built contains some flaws in songwriting and production, but I can hear that Splatterhouse have enormous potential. If you’re a devotee of the style, you should give this one a try, but if you’re a newbie, I could think of better starting points. I suspect that this record is just a taste of whats to come, and I’m already gearing up for some great stuff from the denizens of the house.
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