Rigor Mortis
Rigor Mortis

Rigor Mortis ascended to the top, then fell apart just as quickly. Looking back on their brief career, it's apparent how great and innovative the music was. This album is one of the pillars of extreme metal.

The opening song, "Welcome to Your Funeral", is an instrumental that immediately proves the band were light years ahead of contemporary speed metal bands and the glammed up stars-to-be in their native Texas. Furiously fast tremolo riffing unleashes wave after wave of melody in rapidly and unpredictably shifting patterns. This is the work of a superior mind (and arm).

Most of the songs sound like the missing link between speed metal like Kreator and the more ominous, versatile music of '90s black and death metal bands. Mike Scaccia's guitar work in "Condemned to Hell" is all over the place, brimming with interesting riffs and bridges. "Wizard of Gore" is another example of his expertise, as he plays a support role for the bass and vocals before bursting out with a great two-part solo, moving to a creative bridge, and coming back to the verse riff to drive the song home. The carefully considered interplay between the instruments enhances the bloodthirsty impression of the music.

"Shroud of Gloom" contains a jaw-dropping solo and a richly melodic chorus that would make any fan of Swedish metal mess himself. It's brilliant how this chorus extends further than expected. "Die in Pain" has more of a hardcore sound and a memorable refrain. "Vampire" is definitive Rigor Mortis, packed with inventive guitar work. "Re-animator" is a true metal anthem.

"Slow Death" spreads out and allows more space for all the instruments to work. Emphasis is placed on the band's tongue-in-cheek lyrics and a few movie samples are inserted. This record has the playful feel of a band that knows they've mastered their sound.

2001 j.s.