As desensitized as we are in these turbulent times, extreme metal can still make you spit your breakfast across the room in sheer terror and delight. Australian infidels WEREWOLVES are making no effort to push music into fresh territory here: "The Dead Are Screaming" is all about the warped thrill of unstoppable violence, vomit and blood. Essentially a power trio, comprising PSYCROPTIC drummer Dave Haley and two former members of digi-grinders THE BERZERKER, Matt Wilcox and Sam Bean, WEREWOLVES are simply one of the nastiest things to happen to death metal in a long time.
Jaw-snapping kickoff "Establish Dominance" lives up to its title with a hyper-speed wall of blasts and razor-sharp death metal tempo tropes. The band's airtight and sinewy sound leaves no room for dynamics, beyond the occasional dead stop or eerie segue: everything here is designed to smash, stab and generally eviscerate. "Know Your Place" is as black hearted and unrelenting as MARDUK at their war-hungry best, but with fiendish hooks bursting through its heads-down, wall-of-horror onslaught. When the blasting does finally recede for any meaningful length of time, midway through the mutant savagery of "Dogknotted", WEREWOLVES still sound fiercely focused on the kill.
The remaining seven songs are all equally terrifying and performed with mad-eyed zeal. Extra marks are awarded for some of the song titles: "Gnaw Their Bones", "Fountains of Bile", "Showering Teeth" — images as ugly and unsavory as the music that accompanies them, with a tiny twinkle of bleak humor lurking deep in the malevolent mix. In particular, "Fountains of Bile" is a brilliantly imperious demonstration of death metal fundamentals, from precise tech-metal terrorism to doomy, dissonant miasma.
Frankly, it's a rare and simple pleasure to be pinned to the wall by 33 minutes of grotesque, bloodthirsty, myopic noise that displays zero interest in courting mainstream metal fans. This one is for the underground heads: it's a horrible, malicious explosion of blastbeats, screams, muscular technicality and bad fucking vibes. And sometimes that's just what we need to cheer us right up.