Inhuman Condition take their name from the title of Massacre’s 1992 EP, which is no surprise when you consider all three band members played in the Floridian collective at some point in their careers. On the surface, it looks like a breakaway group, almost like members of Obituary leaving and forming a band called The End Complete. But dig a little deeper and you find three of the finest mercenaries of death metal demonstrating their expertise and elite craft. The prospect of Terry Butler (Obituary, ex-Death, ex-Six Feet Under), Taylor Nordberg (Deicide, ex-Wombbath) and Jeramie Kling (Venom Inc., Ex Deo) should make your taste buds salivate in gluttonous delight. This is death metal of the old school with a lesson plan for the modern age.
The greatest trick of opener, ‘The Mold Testament’, is the illusion that it sounds like a track recorded with analogue equipment. Of course, this is not the case, but the band’s decision to avoid the polish and padding of ProTools reminds you that death metal thrives on a simple mix where all instruments can be heard and none of them dominate. The opening riff pulsates with a razor-sharp thrash intensity but delivers like a crossover assault from 1988. Think of D.R.I. playing Floridian death metal with gory vocal transgressions. You can hear the colossal might of Prong in the guitar work and the desperate cries of Death in the chorus. ‘Recycled Hate’ is how you combine the death metal tremolo approach of Tampa Bay with the precision of San Francisco’s Bay Area greats. Drummer, Jeramie Kling, likes his d-beats as much as his skank beats and maintains a salacious menace in his vocals while providing the essential time-keeping elements of the music. How does he do it?
Can an album stuck in 1990 be an enthralling listen? That’s a fair question, but the personnel behind the art earned the right to do this years ago. Terry Butler was Chuck Schuldiner’s first permanent bassist in 1988. His more youthful bandmates kept the flame alive in the first two decades of this century as hired guns for some of the most respected names in the underground. Is there a better example of the death-thrash hybrid than ‘I’m Now the Monster’ or ‘Hellucid’? The latter begs the question – where are the boundaries between second wave thrash metal and first wave death metal? Inhuman Condition are the band best qualified to answer this. Let’s not forget that Sepultura were once part of this global movement as well. Their 1989 classic, Beneath the Remains, comes to mind at the beginning of ‘King Con’ with its juxtaposition of acoustic chord-picking and vicious palm-muted rhythms.
The lyrics might dwell in a morbid preoccupation with bloodlust and ruminate on bizarre death fantasies, but a political undercurrent rumbles beneath the surface on ‘Fencewalker’. This is the classic swipe at the vapid politicians and high-status individuals that will do anything to achieve power. They hold no coherent beliefs, possess no moral compass, and subscribe to no ideology. Inhuman Condition show that death metal can unmask these parasites with as much efficacy as the punk bands that prefer less subtlety.
It’s true that Inhuman Condition have no great pretensions to reinvent death metal, but those of you that discovered the genre five years ago will enjoy Fearsick as much as those that grew up on it in the early 1990s. This is an album destined to stay in your playlist for the rest of the year.
Release Date: 15/07/2022
Record Label: Listenable Insanity Records
Standout tracks: The Mold Testament; Recycled Hate; I’m Now the Monster
Suggested Further Listening: Death – Spiritual Healing (1990), Paralysis – Mob Justice (2020), Go Ahead and Die – Go Ahead and Die (2021)