"Sure thing man, I'll look them up tomorrow" is something I have said countless times in my life, about countless bands. Sometimes I mean it. Sometimes I mean it, and remember the band's name the next day. Impetigo are such a band. Hailed as "gore gods", the death-metal/grindcore band from the USA, to this day still has a strong cult-following. Hence, I've decided to take a look at one of their albums - "Horror of the Zombies" to see what I've been missing.
Listening to the band, what I got wasn't quite what I expected, in two ways - it was more musically straight-forward, particularly. Having read somewhere that the band incorporated grindcore elements into their music, I was expecting something a little more rabid. Instead, what I was greeted with was a very riff-driven affair, with crushing, booming riffs which really cruise along, and flow really well - the songs are smooth, as opposed to manic and rough. This isn't a bad thing at all - I'll listen to, and enjoy, most kinds of metal, and it's really interesting to hear the band's genuinely interesting take on heaviness, a style which, I must say, I've not heard much before. The riff-based, bare-bones style which the band play is very enjoyable to listen to, with the pulsating, visceral and murderous feel of the guitar, both in what is played, and the tone in which it is played, having a real catchiness, or, certainly, a memorable nature which makes the album feel an immediate hit with me. The music isn't hugely heavy by death-metal standards today, at-least, not in the same way, but even now, after twenty years, the songs still have the strength of a murky, thundering locomotive. I don't tend to listen to gore based metal, but with Impetigo, it just seems to work with me - the perfect amount of tongue-in-cheek humour, balanced with a diversity of themes, linked, overarching, by gore, yes, but not so similar to one another as to be uninteresting.
In the vocal department, I think it's safe to say that the band do the word "guttural" full justice - the vocals have a very honest, earthy growl to them, as opposed to many of the death metal bands I hear, in which while a more caustic, the vocals also sound more forced, and often, less suited to the band's nature - Impetigo's vocals, with a deep, slightly twisted and sinister edge, really suit the band's gory nature perfectly. The samples, taken often from interviews with people involved in gruesome acts, really adds to the albums gory feel, and sets the scene on many of the songs really effectively. Whether the samples are acted-out or genuine, I don't know, but what is certain is that Impetigo were really ahead of their time with their use - It's something which every gory or brutal death-metal band in the world, practically, is doing nowadays. The production, which, as always, I'll mention a little, is quite rough, and rather quiet, on the whole. Some of the conventional heaviness is lost, I'd expect, by the quite muted, restraining feel of the production. At the same time, on the other hand, it doesn't make the music any less enjoyable - the prominent vocals, probably the loudest element in the mix - is really effective, and makes the music punchy, while the murky guitar sound compliments the gory nature of the band.
I always enjoy reviewing bands which I wouldn't necessarily listen too much if I didn't feel like reviewing a healthy variety of things, and it's safe to say that that's why I reviewed Impetigo. However, I can also say that it's been a damn enjoyable, complete-feeling album to listen to. I fully understand why it's considered a classic, and what's more, I entirely agree.
Fantastic, or indeed, goretastic. 9/10.
Impetigo Official Site
Impetigo on Metal Archives