I found "Only Tools and Corpses" by England's GOREROTTED to be one of the better extreme music releases of 2003. The band took elements of punk, grindcore, and death metal, put 'em in a blender with a cup of catchy songwriting, and ended up with a flavorful milkshake of musical atrocity and tongue-in-cheek gore splatter. You could actually sing along to sick little ditties like the title track and "Hacked in the Back, Dumped in a Sack", albeit in a calamitous sort of way. One of three vocalists, snotty shouter Mr. Gore had a lot to do with the album's punk rock attitude. With Mr. Gore's departure, the five remaining members have created an album in "A New Dawn for the Dead" that is anything but a clone of "Only Tools and Corpses".
Arrangements that have been stripped of much of the chaos that characterized "Only Tools and Corpses", coupled with the absence of Mr. Gore's fuck-you snarl, leaves "A New Dawn for the Dead" as more of a traditional death metal album. The tri-vocal approach has been replaced by the more common dual growl/shriek method. While I do think the formula employed on "Only Tools and Corpses" did more to help the band stand out from the death metal and grindcore packs, "A New Dawn for the Dead" is an accomplished throat slash of an album in its own right.
Still a far more memorable affair than many death metal albums, strong songwriting, harmonized guitar lines, and good track variety brings to mind bands like IMPALED, not to mention some of the better thrash-tinged death metal acts found on labels like Razorback. Songs such as "Pain as a Prelude to Death" (featuring some NILE-sounding licks) and "A Very Grave Business" should satisfy fans' need for groovy tunes that still crush. A somewhat subtler horror vibe, compared to the over-the-top gashing of "Only Tools and Corpses" fits with the less jittery musical approach.
Perhaps most importantly, the members of GOREROTTED continue to demonstrate that they understand what it means to a write a "song" as opposed to a hodgepodge of bludgeoning guitar riffs and blast beats. "A New Dawn for the Dead" is still gnarly and nasty enough for the horror freaks. It's also well written and memorable. It'll be interesting to see where the band takes its music on the next full-length release.