Medusa, the debut album by Uncured, is Death Metal goodness that is bad to the bone. Frontman Zak Cox’s vocals are powerful throughout the 9-song CD.

According to Zak in a question I asked him, he shares guitar duties with his brother, fellow band member, Rex Cox, delivering stunning lightning-fast riffs and brutal power chords, with a nod to Dream Theater included in an array of gems that has led to several sold-out dates already on their current tour with DevilDriver. Rex also has lead vocals on several of the songs on Medusa, an album Death Metal fans will definitely want to get and if you have the chance to catch these guys in concert, go for it!

“Opium Den” is the first song on Medusa, a killer way to open the doors of Death Metal fans’ musical minds, splintering them off their hinges like a forceful boot, announcing that Uncured is a musical force to be reckoned with. Zak and Rex interchange riffs throughout Medusa, Zak on his HellRaiser 8 Schecter 8-string guitar, and Rex on his seven-string enforcer of melodic mayhem, playing a Jeff Loomis Signature, according to another question I asked Zak.
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The band members of Uncured, rounded out by drummer, Liam Manley, and bass guitarist, Jon Kita, start off the CD with a song that is truly intense and has a balls-to-the-wall energy to it. Zak’s gritty and shouted vocals will have your heads banging to the lyrics and make you want to go to Home Depot and see if they have plans to build your own mosh pit at your homes.

Zak, Rex, Jon, and Liam showcase their technical expertise on their instruments during “Opium Den” and the other eight songs on Medusa, interspersed with raw lyrics and driving power that will make your eyes bleed (figuratively speaking, of course). “Opium Den” transports listeners to the Orient or maybe Marakesh, and you can practically smell the hookah or pipe smoke in the air as the lyrics fill your ears, followed by power chords that will make you want to put your newly-built Home Depot mosh pits to good use. One of the lines Zak belts out is: “As the fire dies/All you do is/Wait for the end!”

Medusa’s second song, “Enculeate,” like several of the other songs on the CD, is a guitar tapping tour de force, with the fingers of Zak’s right hand “tapping” the frets and adding notes to the already lightspeed riffs. Rex is equally adept, with the brothers elevating the heartbeats of fans with the sheer energy and speed of their playing and putting on a tapping clinic.

I readily admit, I had to look up the definition of “Enculeate” online. One of the definitions lsted was to remove the nucleus from a cell. A second definition is to surgically remove something like a tumor, or gland, or the eyeball, “intact from its surrounding capsule.”

There is a blazing guitar solo a the beginning of “Enculeate,” and then the song briefly slows down a bit, for another Dream Theater-inspired part, that has a trippy feeling to it. After a little over a minute into “Enculeate,” with the song’s tension building up, Liam, Jon, Rex and Zak launch into solid gold Death Metal-style power chords and pounding rythmic force, reminding listeners that the band members’ technical mastery of their instruments, while impressive, are in the songs to help create intensity, a trademark of Death Metal’s best songs. There is plenty of both impressive riffs and straight-out rocking in “Enculeate,” and cool lyrics like: “I’m here/At the end/Burning down your shrine.” Can you say “brutal”? I knew you could!

The third song on Medusa, “Stygian Pit,” is an instrumental one. It allows the members of Uncured to further showcase their individual talents, and presumably, during concerts, lets Zak have a short breather, a chance to rest up his vocal chords for the carnage to follow.

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“Petrified,” is the fourth song on Medusa, yet another highlight, and one of my faves on the CD. You gotta love the pounding drums, pulsating bass lines, and uber-fast guitar playing by Zak and Rex. I imagine that the beats-per-minute, if measured by a metronome, would be a “Hell, Yeah!” if such a reading existed.

After the initial driving intro of “Petrified,” Zak and Rex get a certain 1960s-type vibe going for a few measures, with what I’m guessing is some sort of Reverb guitar pedal, with some Wah effects added, to further entrance listeners. I really got into the bass playing during the part of the song, also, then Zak’s vocals kick in at about 53 seconds into “Petrified,” making the song a true Death Metal masterpiece. The juxtaposition of the freakin’ parts of “Petrified,” are very cool, to say the least.

Medusa’s fifth song, “Antipsychotic,” also is infused with some great atmospheric guitar pedal effects, and there is a terrific acoustic guitar solo also included. Zak’s vocals are purposefully somewhat muted, I believe maybe recorded to sound like they are just coming through one channel. Make no mistake, the vocals are still powerful, though, and the song is definitely a Death Metal one in nature.

With “Myopic,” a straight-on thundering blast to the senses returns to the forefront. It is one more highlight and the guitar playing cuts through the song like a knife, or light saber, into a block of ice, sculpting out a very memorable song, indeed.

“More tapping, please,” a modern-day Oliver Twist might request, if he was a Death Metal fan, and with “Myopic,” Uncured grants that wish. Zak’s vocals are, once again, impressive. One line of the song, if I heard it correctly, is: “Breathe out,/Breathe out your fear!” The brutal Death Metal power chords of “Myopic” are interspersed with some melodic and shimmering Wah pedal-sounding effects.

“Myopic” is a great song, leading into yet another amazing song, the ninth and last one on Medusa, “Spontaneous Regeneration.” It starts off highlighting Liam’s drumming, creating a rolling and powerful beat, adding to his growing rep as one of Death Metal’s best drummers around. The song has a very atmospheric feel to it, with more acoustic and somewhat Spanish-flavored riffs also an integral part of it.

That all builds up to what might be Zak’s most powerful display of vocals yet on Medusa. That’s saying a lot, as his voice is powerful throughout Medusa’s debut CD. With Medusa, Uncured has crafted a debut album that is definitely “bad to the bone,” in a very good way. There album can be downloaded from Spotify at Uncured’s website, here. I’d highly recommend the album to anyone who is into quality Death Metal music!

Written By: Douglas R. Cobb

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