Gore Rock stands as a pretty bulky album, carrying crisp production and mastering values that really beef up the instruments to refrain from caving to the gimmicky analog eighties Hard Rock approach, and it works wonders for the music as a whole. The guitars have a good deal of life to them, though can become creepy and even forlorn with thick distortions when needed, the deep bass chords add a nice backbone with plenty of twanging moments, and the drums are pristine overall with proper levels throughout. Sometimes the crippling and vile gutturals and background rasps can seem a bit lost in the mix, but, for the most part, are about on par in volume with the rest of the instruments. Surprisingly, this seems to hit the hardest during the more Rock oriented offerings.
Much like what Carcass or Six Feet Under was guilty of at one point (though the former far more successful in the long run than the latter), Gut Absorber has no problem baring their Death ‘n Roll fangs on this album. In fact, that’s how it all starts. “Templars of Blood” is the more Death Metal oriented version of what Chrome Division initially started out sounding like. Lyrics of traditional epic Heavy Metal themes laced with gore works wonders with the deep gutturals and simple guitar hooks that rely a lot on the thick bass guitar to keep the fun and upbeat brutality alive outside the riff-heavier chorus with rich drum patterns to amp up the enthusiasm. Three minutes in and it caves to a very grim, even melancholic slam that throws back to bands like Autopsy and Deceased instead of a cheesy guitar solo. That isn’t the case behind “Blood Whiskey and Beer”, however, which is basically your quintessential eighties Hard Rock/Glam Rock track complete with a brief keyboard solo; catchy, but not that unique or memorable.
Even though the band does a fantastic job of reminding listeners why Death ‘n Roll can still be relevant and catchy, they prove to not be a one-trick pony. “Infernal Bloodshed” isn’t the most remarkable example, trudging along until the literal chainsaw effect revs up, but even then it leads to a typical Brutal Death Metal slam with punishing drums thrown in, closing things on more of a generic note. “Daydream Nightmare” throws back to the glory days of Death Metal putridity, lined with crushing Swedish Death Metal grooves that are a bit on the simpler side for the main verses against some catchy two-step drumming that is a little quicker in comparison. Finally, there’s “The Butcher”, which blurs the lines between both worlds in a very subtle manner. There’s a bit of Hard Rock felt through the performance as a whole, though the chorus screams more of a Melodic Death Metal influence. Just past four minutes in, we’re again greeted with a slowing pace that isn’t quite a slam, but rather a natural shift from fun and catchy enthusiasm to a spirit breaking march to one’s own grave.
Had this effort come out closer to the turn of the century instead of a good fifteen years later, then it might have been a little more ground breaking than it actually winds up being. But does this mean this debut album simply is not worth checking out? Not in the slightest. While Gore Rock isn’t the most original or unique album to come out in the Death Metal field, especially in this day and age, Gut Absorber still do a fantastic job at combining fun as hell gritty Rock ‘n Roll with infectious old-school and Swedish Death Metal. Whether you prefer the Goregrind era of Carcass or are just burnt out on the sub-genre thanks to Six Feet Under‘s contributions, consider this a guilty pleasure you won’t soon regret hearing.