Dr. Shrinker – Grotesque Wedlock (2004)


Death metal was born in 1983 with the unholy quartet of Sodom, Bathory, Hellhammer and Slayer, but it took many years to translate the new style into a full-fledged monster, which happened sometime in 1990-1991. In the interregnum, bands such as Possessed, Kreator, Destruction and Merciless took the speed metal approach, the broken drums of thrash, and the vocals and guitar techniques of death metal and made an intermediate style.

Dr. Shrinker comes to us from that era with this compilation of demos from its period of existence from 1987 to 1990. The tracklist breaks down as follows:

    “Wedding the Grotesque” (1989)

  1. Tools Of The Trade
  2. Mesmerization (Of A Corpse)
  3. Fungus
  4. Rawhead Rex
  5. Cerebral Seizure
  6. Dead By Dawn
  7. Open-Heart Surgery
  8. No Way To Live
  9. Pronounced Dead
  10. Chunk Blower
  11. Bacterial Encroachment
  12. Wedding The Grotesque
  13. “The Eponym” (1990)

  14. Tighten The Tourniquet
  15. Germ Farm
  16. “Recognition” (1988)

  17. The Command
  18. March Of The Undead
  19. Graphic Violence
  20. Inverted Direction
  21. Free At Lasssst!!!

These tracks display the conventions of that period pushing toward something more extreme: verses like the German speed metal bands, choruses like Swedish band Merciless with a bit of melody, and shifts from verse/chorus structure and fills much like later American band Nunslaughter. These songs display the holdover from 1970s metal through Venom which manifests in strong rhythm hooks to the vocal cadence of choruses balanced by driving inertia in the verses, deviating with strange fills that foreshadow future song developments. In this, part of the genesis of death metal can be seen: the transition from conventional song structures to entirely riff-driven evolution of theme as manifested itself on classics of the genre like Onward to Golgotha.

Showing the speed metal heritage, riffs are often single-picked and emphasize an internal rhythm, in contrast to the phrasal riffs to come later. Their simplicity in phrase allows the production of a basic driving rhythm which storms up against the ends of each iteration, creating a sense of a pile-up that conveys urgency to the listener. This ploughs into the chorus and creates a feeling of intensity with repetition, which is very much like the 1980s, a cross between Gordon Gekko and nuclear warfare. An interesting outlier is “March of the Undead,” which could have come off Cryptic Slaughter Convicted (and, at 1:21, has a song length to match).

While Dr. Shrinker does a great job of this style, the problem for me — and others — is that this style seems dated and the bands interchangeable at this point. You could throw on an album by Necronomicon, Merciless, Kreator, Destruction or late-80s Sodom and get the same experience and roughly the same riff archetypes. For this reason, Grotesque Wedlock remains in the purchasing domain of people who love this speed/death hybrid style and metal historians.

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6 thoughts on “Dr. Shrinker – Grotesque Wedlock (2004)”

  1. Anthony says:

    I enjoy these demos quite a bit, but I think this band got a lot better when they turned into the Impetigo-esque Phantasm. They’re one of the few death metal bands that seem to make a point of using negative space effectively.

  2. Dualist says:

    Bathory, Hellhamer, Slayer as influnces?

    Why does nobody ever mention these guys:


    The true fathers of the phrasal riff.

    1. Anthony says:

      “Formed in: 1991
      Years active: 1991-present”
      I think you need to do some fact-Czeching there, bud.

      1. Dualist says:


        1. thomasw says:

          well on discogs, this information seems to be in line with the article:>

          This collection contains the three studio demos that Dr. Shrinker produced over
          their existence from 1987 to 1991.

          1-12: Wedding The Grotesque Demo 1989
          13-14: The Eponym Demo 1990
          15-19: Recognition Demo 1988

  3. Disremember says:

    These is some good stuff …
    I always loved bands at the intersection of speed and death metal …
    Should get this when it’s out …

    P/S Brett, what’s your thoughts about Agressor’s never ending destiny ?
    I find it’s quite similar to Massacra’s Final holocaust …

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