This is a special death metal album.
The Glorious Dead, a death metal outfit from Michigan, has accomplished a real feat here: they've made a metal album that captures the spirit of doom metal, while still playing fast and brutal death metal. From the toolset of Grave, Obituary, Runemagick, Purtenance, Convulse, Bolt Thrower, Incantation, early-90s Napalm Death, and The Karleian Isthmus-era Amorphis, the band plays a crushing, punishing form of death metal. They've read up on the classics, analyzed their texts, studied hard, and come up with their grand dissertation.
The entire album is packed with heavy, ferocious rippers, but the pinnacle comes in the rapid-fire delivery of "Cranial Festering." This shows the band at its creative best, mixing mid-ranged grooves with well-placed blasts of speed, speed, SPEED. This gives the song an exhilarating quality that makes you want to crank it at full volume.
The band as a whole is its own all-star cast, but I'd wager that drummer Chris Fulton is the MVP of this team. Listen to him shine on bangers like "Putrefactive Adoration" and "Exordium of Decay," and the unorthodox "The Ruin of the Flesh." The latter track is one of the more progressive on the album, an example of the band taking their classic influences and stretching the form out, feeling their way around the limits of straightforward death metal.
On the other hand, if you're just looking for a Grave/Obituary-style stomp through the boneyard of riffs, you can't do much better than "The Noise of Gravediggers." If you're really into Hypocrisy and Nightmares Made Flesh-era Bloodbath, then check out "Vitreous Hemorrhage." Oh? Looking for something more akin to Incantation's slow, plodding filth-fests? Then "Tenebris Arca" is your jam, my friend. Like I said, the band has studied from the best, and honed their chops to make their own masterwork in homage to the greats.
From there, I suppose you could come up with the only real objection for this album. There is SO MUCH "new" old-school death metal out there now. Do we really need more of it? The obvious first response is: Who cares? If a band takes a good style and puts their own spin on it, we should celebrate it. However, my advocacy of this album would go beyond that. There aren't that many prominent bands (outside of a few on 20 Buck Spin, like Ossuarium) playing from the Finn-Black playbook as effectively as these dudes. And it speaks to the band's spirit of perseverance that they've been around since 2006 and kept at it for long enough to finally produce a full-length album in 2020.
So if you're looking for some solid, expertly composed death metal to celebrate the death of this awful summer, Into Lifeless Shrines should hold a priority spot on your shelf, or hard drive, or streaming queue, or whatever. It's a record that captures a foreboding, eerie sense of doom while still smashing with all the fury of a thousand volcanoes. A sound to behold.
Favorite songs: "Cranial Festering," "Putrefactive Adoration" and "Vitreous Hemorrhage"