Deceased: The Blueprints for Madness

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Deceased: The Blueprints for Madness
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Deceased: The Blueprints for Madness
Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Relapse Records
1995
Release length: 52:08
Myspace
Website
Youtube
There is no denying that one of the most underrated acts in the Death Metal universe is the band Deceased. Formed back in 1985 in Arlington, Virginia, this group blends their own morbid and slightly gothic approach to mixing Death Metal and Thrash Metal into a rather unique experience. Between intensity, speed, and catchy music, the group has maintained a strong following, especially with the underground in today’s Metal culture. After being the first act to sign to Relapse Records and issuing a few EPs and their first full-length, Luck of the Corpse, the group put out one of their strongest recordings, but easily one of their most overlooked albums, entitled The Blueprints for Madness.

The Blueprints for Madness is undeniably a strong album full of fury and intensity from one track to the next, both through the music the band plays, as well as the atmosphere. Given that Relapse Records was still technically in it’s youth at the time of this recording, it’s understandable that the quality to the release wouldn’t quite be top notch, but for it’s time it’s still a solid effort despite a more raw quality. The guitars sound dirty and vile with a strong bass presence that can easily be felt at times, yet can also feel hidden in the background from lower chords being performed. The drums are done well and change with the pace of the song flawlessly, having a louder thud to the kicks, but the levels are all set to the right volume that nothing on the kit or in the band is dwarfed out. Of course the vocal performance carries on with that rhaspier Thrash Metal kind of approach, but much angrier and more sinister, essentially screamed instead of harmonized in some way. The quality of the instruments leads to a pretty heavy sound all around, and aside the bass kicks sometimes being a bit too much with that thud, like with “The Triangle”, much of the album does benefit from this murkier sound that has a more bass-driven quality to it that helps to create a truly grim and crushing experience on many of the tracks found here.

“Mobid Shapes in Black” is a perfect example. The song molds in that catchier Thrash concept with a furious Death Metal assault, jumping in and out throughout, but mostly sticking to the high speed material after the introduction and openning material. The song sets up that rather vile atmosphere to the recording, while the deeper sound holds the guitar-heavy moments of fury through the track at a level that does not flinch at sounding bludgeoning in it’s somewhat higher pitch approach. Both of these styles will hav e the listener’s blood racing and head banging away, but while it does a good job to set up the rage the band can bring, it’s not until “The Triangle” that Deceased really sets the tone of the album through catchier, mid- to slow-paced music that just feels creepy and can be a bit unnerving, especially towards the end when it crawls along, still retaining a strong amount of energy, but at the same time includes some keyboards in the background to ramp up that eerie sensation the music gives off. It’s songs like this that really stand out the most on the recording, though there sadly are not many that manage to have that specific kind of atmosphere, though not all are that great considering the track “The Creek of the Dead” is a much slower paced track that is more keyboard heavy with cleaner vocals that even go into spoken word sections to start the track off with, all of which greatly highlights the faults of the production including a stronger focus on bass kicks which are not that great to begin with and can be a little distracting when performed in a more chaotic manner like here when the music picks up from that slower introduction. Of course the slower parts do rear up again in other tracks, like “Alternate Dimensions”, but don’t quite sound as bad or hollow as those on this song.

The majority of material on The Blueprints for Madness is the faster and intense Death Metal meets Thrash Metal tracks like “Morbid Shape in Black”, “The Blueprints for Madness”, and “Mind Vampires”. “The Blueprints for Madness” has a stronger Thrash input though with a heavy two-step influence that just hammers away at the listener and becomes the shortest track off the recording. However, any longer and the track would feel a bit overkill. “Mind Vampire”, however, does have a creepier sensation to it like “The Triangle”, including some keyboards that can come off a bit more Progressive and Science Fiction in nature, which is fine considering the stronger Death Metal presence and more of the chaotic Thrash Metal sound the band manages to put out there in their material, as well as a superb fast-paced guitar solo that hits a bit too abrupt, but will definitely rip your face right off, especially when the high pitched wail kicks in over it and just adds to the impact. The slower portions of this track also seem to have a bit of a stronger Doom Metal sound to them, which ends up taking this track all over between the two already established styles, but it’s just all executed well enough that it keeps a good flow to the track without feeling like you’re suffering from whiplash the second you exit the track.

The rest of the album from “Mind Vampires” on just seems to focus more on that morbid sense of musical atmosphere from the band. It usually works and doesn’t really leave any songs that come off boring, but the band does tack on more slower moments that, while not a bad idea, make you wonder if they are really necessary half the time. The end of “Midnight” works well due to the overall atmosphere and lyrical content of the track, progressing through the track to reach a dismal climax, however for “Alternate Dimensions” it ends up feeling a little tacked on and not really essential to the actual song. “Negative Darkness” also has slower moments, but the band shifts them out between more mid-pace music and faster passages as well, so you’re getting a wide variety throughout the song and it works to kill some of the monotony that the slower passages start to give off after a while.

Overall, when it comes to The Blueprint for Madness, the album is a strong effort that has plenty of solid tracks from start to finish on it. The production quality does come off a bit rough, which both helps and hinders the release in quality, as well as atmosphere. If you’re a fan of Deceased then you obviously would have heard of this release, but if you have not, this is easily one of the bands most underrated releases, and it’s hard to understand why. There’s a solid mixture of what motivates the band, from punishing and furious Thrash and Death Metal assaults, to slower, creepier morbid Death Metal tracks throughout the release, especially towards the end. Yes there are some moments where those creepier elements don’t quite work because of the production, but overall The Blueprints for Madness still offers up enough hard hitting track that listeners will simply eat up from start to finish.

01. Morbid Shape in Black – 5:42
02. The Triangle – 5:53
03. Island of the Unknown – 3:29
04. The Blueprints for Madness – 2:36
05. The Creek of the Dead – 5:05
06. Mind Vampires – 3:48
07. Into the Bizarre – 5:59
08. Alternate Dimensions – 3:49
09. Midnight – 5:15
10. Negative Darkness – 4:37
11. A Reproduction of Tragedy – 5:55
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Deceased (band)
Deceased
Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.