Landmine Marathon

Rusted Eyes Awake

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Most veterans of the extreme metal arts will tell you that death metal was only "simple" for a very small portion of its history, since it proceeded to evolve extremely quickly from its original foundations in thrash into perhaps the most technique-laden heavy metal subgenre of them all -- as perhaps best illustrated by Death's incredible metamorphosis between 1987's Scream Bloody Gore and 1998's Sound of Perseverance. But as the retro-metal craze swept all continents towards the end of the 2000s, countless young bands decided to turn back the clock to revel in the relative minimalism of those seminal and more innocent '80s templates -- primarily thrash, followed by black metal, and then, inevitably, even death metal, as shown by Phoenix, AZ's Landmine Marathon. And, for their second long-player, 2009's Rusted Eyes Awake, the group seemingly sought to explore the very moment when thrash became death, given the improbable velocity with which they attack corrosive headbangers like "Certain Death," "Bled to Death," and "Heroin Swine" -- to the point that one wonders whether such near-blastbeat velocity would have even been achievable some 30 years earlier. Others, like the two-faced "Xenocide," alternate a crawling first-half grind with a more typical flurry in its second half, all topped with words condemning American insularity (we think) with stellar results, and several more also indulge in the blood'n'guts lyrics typical of many genre-defining death metal bands (see "Bile Towers," "Skin from Skull," and the zombie on their album cover). Finally worth mentioning is that Landmine Marathon's vocal Armageddon is carried out by a charming young lady by the name of Grace Perry, whose crust-layered grunts and vicious shrieks leave nothing to be desired when compared to the boys' club that dominates the scene. So the only question that remains is whether the group will indeed withstand a marathon-length career, as their name suggests, or flame out after a sprint akin to their preferred mode of songwriting.

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