Originally published as a review at the Free Jazz Collective (http://www.freejazzblog.org/2014/01/mike-pride-drummers-corpse-aum-fidelity.html)
Drummer’s Corpse is an optimistic journey into the after life, wherein the moment of death, what would be no more than seconds, is stretched into a 30-minute celebration of noise. While the title track hints at the aesthetics of American heavy metal, the album truly has its antecedents in works such as John Coltrane’s Ascension and OM; it is a large-scale celebration of life, brewing its own spirituality. A first rate cast of percussionists (Oran Canfield, Russell Greenberg, John McClellan, Bobby Previte, Mike Pride, Ches Smith, and Tyshawn Sorey) is featured in such a way as to subsume the individual uniqueness of each musician into a single wall of ecstatic drum.
An intense, mid-range, imperceptibly changing drone is provided by the electric guitar of Chris Welcome as a backdrop for the world’s greatest drum circle. Independent percussive motives appear and disappear into the texture; repeated listening reveals more and more subtleties. Cries, screams, and spoken word blend nicely into the mix, revealing messages from the world beyond.
The appearance of the second track, Some Will Die Animals, presents an awkward transition, as it is a much smaller ensemble than the first. Three vocalists, reciting spoken words and contradictory speech, appearing at various moments, decorate a trio of Chris Welcome on guitar, Eivind Opsvik on bass, and Mike Pride on percussion. If the listener will muster up enough mental separation between the two tracks, each can be appreciated in their own integrity. While the human voice is featured in a unique way, the highlight of this track is the sensitivity of Mike Pride’s drum work.
Both tracks are around 30 minutes long, although I wish the opening, Drummer’s Corpse, would carry on for another 30. It is an intoxicating listening experience. Highly intense, and unrelenting, Drummer’s Corpse is one you’ll want to have, and for all its death metal, leaves you with a feeling of profound optimism.