Fourth album for the Death/Black/Thrash/Heavy Metal heroes from California dealing with stories of zombies, gore, mutilations and death.
After a scary intro about somebody dying and quickly returning as undead ("Outbreak"), "Godless Dawn" begins and immediately displays Swedish Death riffing, first abrasive then heavy as fuck sided by a keyboards layer; after a set of Death and Black vocals and riffs, the song soon turns almost to Thrash Metal and the shift of different types of diabolical vocals goes on till a Slayerian axe solo comes in. The sounds aren't perfect because the guitars are too weak for this genre and there are noises in the background that haven't been edited out, or maybe it's just a printing fault; at the end of the day it's not such a big deal even if it's a tad annoying.
Strongly indebted to Six Feet Under, "Lords of the Undead" contains many Symphonic Black/Thrash Metal parts and others with morbid keyboards like only the most inspired Necrophagia could deliver; zombies' words can be heard in the background, too and another very Thrashy guitar solo is here as well.
Mix Motorhead with Death and Black vocals, add catchy strophes, simple riffs and a raw guitar solo after impressive spoken words. You will realize that the solo is slightly faulty but fit for the rotting song; only after doing so will you understand the feeling behind the Carcass/Exhumed-influenced Death 'n' Rolling "Boneless Grave".
More unedited noises are unfortunately present in "Warbeast", a composition that kicks off slow, then adds a Groovy riff, an array of horrorific vocals (never brutal or really creepy yet), sometimes just menaciously whispered and keys to spice it up; during a macabre mid-tempo before the this time awesome guitar solo is the record's finest riff, within a crushing frame.
"A Night to Dismember" starts with a 6-string solo alternated with a Metallica-like riff that seems pillaged from the repertoire that didn't make it to "And Justice for All"; there is prevalence of instrumental moments, licks and additional brief axe solos, furthermore the vocals and drums are more wicked than elsewhere, and probably this is the reason why the song sounds smoother than the others.
The second part of the album begins with the dreadful intermezzo "The Ancient Tongue", followed by "Lovecraft Song", possessing ghoulish keys, zombies' voices, a Thrash Metal riff and later an atmospherical structure in the vein of Doom Metal and Necrophagia tunes before the typical Black/Thrash episodes of Zombie Death Stench's music come back; last but not least, the Californians love to delight their listeners with an abundance of guitar solos that find ample room inside this song.
The tight and straight "Infected" turns out to be the most elaborate (but not complicated!) and various track, and interestingly sounds like Apophis meets the Death of the "Spiritual Healing" period, Nocturnus, Avulsed and Bloodbath; remarkable is also the insert of radio and TV excerpts preceding the pile of guitar solos and the final terror keyboards touches.
If Malevolent Creation and St. Madness jammed with Death SS' Steve Sylvester behind the mike with the usual hail of solos before the repeated refrain you would think of a weird blend that wouldn't work; actually and surprisingly this bizarrely concocted composition does work a treat!
"All Hail the Great Satan" owes a lot to Six Feet Under and Infernal Majesty to a lesser degree; the tribal drums and the sublime guitar solos impeccably match with the traditional Heavy Metal approach that holds the song up; only some artificial tom-tom sounds make you feel something could still be improved if the recording were professional in order to have the band reach and show their full potential.
After a marvellous intro describing the two main categories of serial killers, "Nothing Sacred" launches its assault: it is pure Death/Thrash Metal going in mid-tempo, followed by a lively riff alà Kreator, a Black/Thrash mid-tempo, zombies making sporadical background noises, and winding keyboards lines; this long track actually includes solos ranging not too far from between Megadeth and Nuclear Assault, demonic vocals of disparate sorts and a horrifying ending.
Time for a good surprise: an intro that Mortician fans will love opens a live recording, "Quarantine", where a guitar accompanies a lengthy drum solo and shouts from the rapt audience.
Despite the name, the 4-piece never sound really extreme; there's a powerful bond and a proud will to remain close to the early 90s sounds of drums and guitars especially; some vocals could be rendered better in terms of sounds and convinction. This is a waste because some of the vocals are fairly original and the fact that two people are singing is on the plus side. Also, the way of writing songs and attitude make every song even too easy to assimilate. While self-recording they decided to stay safe and have everything clear but this had a high price to pay, as the songs lack impact, punch and the necessary amount of grit and wickedness, sometimes as to vocals, others as to guitars, occasionally as to tom-tom sounds. In consequence, "Infected" is not one of those modern or complicated albums that grow listen by listen; on the contrary it is so easy to dig and in your face that you can't listen to that too often because there are very few hidden details, and no prodigies. It is enjoyable but I doubt it can stand the test of time because of the above-mentioned deficiencies. I'm not saying these words lightly, my aim is just to be clear about this not being a must-have album although containing a few stunning episodes, therefore a prior playing of a couple of songs is recommended before opening the wallet. You have been warned!