Prophecies Foretold (1998)
USA, Pathos Productions, Technical Death Metal
Among the many regional scenes of Death Metal, there exist just as many devotees of any one style. Above all other distinct regional styles, I’m of the steadfast belief that New York Death Metal as a whole has given extreme music its finest hours. Dehumanized’s ‘Prophecies Foretold’ represents everything I’ve ever loved from classic New York Death Metal and then some. This release is 36 minutes of uncompromising, untouchable and criminally under appreciated brutal bliss. Powerful growls, bludgeoning drums and brilliant guitar work with an emphasis on groove and brutality.
Dehumanized’s greatest success apart from clear and undeniable instrumental/vocal prowess was the masterful merge of raw, undiluted aggression perfect for breaking bones in the pit and expert songwriting with a technical edge. This is essential listening for anyone that has ever considered themselves a fan of Death Metal. To give you a clue as to the kind of quality I’m talking about here, Dying Fetus recently covered ‘Fade Into Obscurity’ on their latest EP ‘History Repeats’. The original makes Dying Fetus’ tribute sound like something from a garage band made up of droopy eyed armless children. Think about that for a second; Dying Fetus are one of the most influential and consistently amazing Death Metal bands in the genre’s history and a band with only one full length rendered their genuinely well played cover amateur hour by virtue of the original song being so fantastic.
Much like several other 90’s New York Death Metal bands (Internal Bleeding and Pyrexia for starters) Dehumanized is often credited as one of the progenitors of modern Slam, illustrating a side of the genre that many of its detractors should think twice about bashing. While every slam on this album is (still) among the very best the genre’s ever offered, they have the distinct advantage of being integrated into otherwise subtly technical compositions in a way that modern slam just doesn’t. Not to disparage modern Slam mind you (anyone who does can get bent) but the mixture of crushing groove and technical prowess is a feat that requires a certain finesse. ‘Prophecies Foretold’ is a classic, albeit one that a fair number of people have never paid any attention to, which is a crying shame.
Aside from the (obviously) spectacular guitar and bass work, George Torres (of Mortician and Skinless fame) is the element that compounds the glorious beatdown of Dehumanized’s music. Some people seem to think if a drummer isn’t Derek Roddy or George Kollias, they’re hopelessly ‘average’ which is utter nonsense. Drumming in a quality Death Metal band is not a feat that can be undertaken by ‘average drummers’. Torres may not be Marco Pitruzzella, but his performance is inseparable from the band’s success. Between the raw sound of the drum recording and his mastery of stamina and discipline, no other drummer would really fulfill the band’s dynamic. Jerry Barco rounds off the ensemble with vocals that serve as a direct inspiration for my own (aspiring) vocal work. His pitch, projection and enunciation (something certain folks foolishly take for granted) are all perfectly balanced and prove once again that power is just as much a part of the growling equation as pitch.
This album is essential. I don’t care what kind of Death Metal you claim to love, if you see yourself as any kind of death aficionado and have never listened to ‘Prophecies Foretold’, slap yourself in the face and change that shocking admission immediately. Here’s hoping a new full length and subsequent show in Seattle are in this legendary band’s future.
^ For those of you who are new to Dehumanized, start here.