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Death Mask : Exhumation

Crawling out of some long forgotten Maryland tomb, here comes Death Mask. Now, here's one damn unknown band if there ever was one. Death Mask was active between 1985 and 1987, and, according to the liner notes, released one demo called 'The Beginning' (whose all tracks can be found here) before calling it quits. Musically, they label themselves Street Level Power Doom, which is summarized as "50% Sludge and 50% Thrash with a dark, moody, dynamic and sinister vibe" by bassist/singer David 'Hoss' Sherman. On this, I totally agree with it, as the music displayed here sounds more like classic 80's Heavy/Thrash with sometimes slow sludgey Death parts a bit in the vein of Dream Death. More in the vein of bands like Tank, early Venom or Motörhead, with some hints to Tony Iommi's way of riffing (the live tracks contains a great version of 'Wicked World', one of the less known songs from Black Sabbath).

That is said, if we except for the dark and sinister vibe, which is indeed quite present, I would barely call the music here Doom. It's good and very raw 80's Metal, but if you're looking for something in the vein of Saint-Vitus or Trouble, be assured that it won't be here. Don't expect mid-tempos either, as the band goes up-tempo on more than half their songs (and their 'Death Mask' anthem wouldn't have been out of place on a Possessed demo). In fact, it Death Mask like a prehistoric version of High On Fire, with a more primitive groove. This version of the album being the second edition (after a first press on Old Metal in 2005), it sports a remastered sound which, considering how raw the music and the sound are even when remastered, was indeed a very good idea.

So, there goes Death Mask. They may not have been the best of the bands back then, nor the more known. But they were playing Metal like if their lives were at stake, with all their guts and soul. And frankly, that’s what is missing in a lot of bands nowadays. If you don’t mind a bit of speed sometimes, this is a great piece of old way Underground Metal to listen to while drinking beers with your buddies. Still, it's barely Doom.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Mercenary
2. The Insane
3. Sudden Death
4. Dead Planet
5. Instrumental
6. Bloodfeast
7. Acid Rain
8. Death Mask
9. Motorhole (live)
10. Sudden Death (live)
11. Acid Rain (live)
12. Death Mask (live)
13. Wicked World (live)

Duration : Approx. 69 minutes.

Visit the Death Mask bandpage.

Reviewed on 30-07-2009 by Laurent Lignon
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