Lurking in the underground since 1993, Seattle’s Drawn and Quartered may not quite have gained the same level of notoriety as some of the other death metal bands have been around for just as long but they’re a group whose back catalog is worth exploring if you’re unfamiliar. While their core sound encompasses the same type of slow, cavernous riffing with transitions into faster blasting that Incantation is known for, Drawn and Quartered has always had the writing to back up the similarities and stand on their own. This year’s The One Who Lurks finds them once again doing what they do best with a monstrous production to back it up. It may be a familiar style, but this is some of the better death metal available in a year that’s provided a considerable number of albums to choose from.
One of the biggest differences between The One Who Lurks and the band’s back catalog is the production values, which come courtesy of Krucyator Productions owner and Autokrator mastermind Loïc.F. There’s a definite increase in the density of the sound and the songs are even more cavernous and crushing than before while still maintaining enough of an old-school feel for long-running fans. It isn’t quite as overwhelmingly murky and dense as the Autokrator record that came out a few months ago, but there are some noticeable similarities that Drawn and Quartered uses to their advantage. In particular, there’s a fullness to the sound courtesy of some very prominent bass lines that makes the slower sections feel like they’re capable of shaking the foundations of buildings. When you combine that with the thick, ominous atmosphere of the guitar leads and the regular transitions from lumbering mid-tempo arrangements into faster blasting you get an incredibly appealing release. There are some similarities to the overall compositions of the songs that does lead to a few of the later numbers having riffs that blue together a bit, but the murky atmosphere is so enticing that it doesn’t hurt the album that much in the long run.
Vocalist Herb Burke has been with the band since the beginning and sounds just as monstrous than ever. The One Who Lurks strikes a nice balance between vocals and instrumentals, with the growls hovering slightly over the recording in a way that seems to only amplify their intensity without drowning out the finer details. It helps that Burke has a full growl that often spreads over the material as the same speed as some of the grooves and maintains a consistent amount of intensity throughout. The griminess of the performance is appealing, and it’s clear that Drawn and Quartered have a front man who is up there with some of the best when it comes to this type of death metal.
In a year filled with killer death metal of all varieties, Drawn and Quartered has returned with a heavy hitting effort that deserves attention. A few of the later songs may follow similar patterns as those that preceded them, but as a whole the material offers plenty to keep listeners coming back. Whether you’ve been following them since the early days or are a newcomer, if you’re into old-school death metal of the slower, murkier variety this album is a worthy addition to your collection. The One Who Lurks is available from Krucyator Productions.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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