Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Gutted - total death metal crusher!!

And here’s another American death metal corpse; not as known and big as the first league bands, but surely not much less deadly and effective in their musical killing. GUTTED was formed in 1990 in Toledo, Ohio by three Ditch brothers: Mark (bass, vocals), Mike (guitar) and Scott (drums). At some point the band was called DEMIGOD and had also some members of DESCENDENT in the line up in 1991, but finally the brothers settled with GUTTED moniker. And as such they recorded a debut demo “Into The Gates Of Insanity” in 1992 – which wasn’t anything special really - and “Disease” demo in 1993. The latter was recorded at RT Audio in Detroit, Michigan (with that demo they had many problems with the manufacturer making the tapes) and contained a massive piece of music, with quality that easily could have matched the recordings of the best bands of the genre and was more than just yet another demo. Guttural vocals, accompanied by relentless blasting drums and vomiting riffing resulted in death metal that could match the best bands like CANNIBAL CORPSE, MONSTROSITY and MALEVOLENT CREATION. Simply great stuff. The attention of the maniacs and live shows the band played, gave GUTTED an occasion to send their stuff to record labels – the feedback from small RED LIGHT Records (previously known as GRINDCORE; this label also released CIANIDE, OPPRESSOR, etc) gave GUTTED a contract for releasing the debut CD. The band was joined at the time by the second guitarist Billy Mills and with him they entered RT Audio again to record 10 tracks for “Bleed for Us to Live” CD – released in April 1994. The album contained all four songs from “Disease” demo re-recorded and six brand new anthems; in total it’s about 45 minutes of pure US death metal! The band nailed it perfectly and in my opinion this is one of the best American death metal albums of the time. After the CD release GUTTED did the usual interviews and gigs (with INCANTATION, MORPHEUS DESCENDS, AFTERLIFE for instance), which made their name more recognizable in the underground. In 1994 GUTTED enters the studio once more, this time to record five new songs and VENOM’s “Manitou” cover. During the recording session Billy Mills – who only played on first three songs – was replaced by Tony Moreno, who recorded the remaining tracks. Entire recording was released on CD by LOUD N’ LOCAL Music Group – but that happened only in 1997. As bonus all songs from “Disease” demo were added, what in the end gave another astonishing 45 minutes of death metal feast in its best and purest, classic form. But then, something happened and GUTTED split up. What truly intrigues me is why such a stunning band remained unnoticed by most of the magazines or labels, and also maniacs, if their music easily can be placed in the same league with the most popular bands of the time? I’ve got no idea, but it was the end of band’s existence. For unknown reasons GUTTED split up and none of its members, including the Ditch brothers, have played in death metal band I would hear of. Truly a shame and lost to death metal underworld.

 Into the Gates of Insanity (demo 1992)
Recorded: unknown
Recording line up: Mark Ditch (voc/bass), Mike Ditch (gtr), Scott Ditch (drums)
Everything must start somewhere… But not always these beginnings are really that great. GUTTED debuted with this tape, but to be honest there’s not much good to say about it. “Into the Gates of Insanity” is just so far behind the quality and style of the music GUTTED started to present later that it’s almost not worth to mention. Really, “Into the Gates of Insanity” sounds almost like a demo recorded by different band. First of all the production is rather flat and uninspiring… I mean, it’s OK, but at the production doesn’t help the songs to get energy and power. Everything just sounds lifeless ha, ha. But to give the band justice, there were maaaaaany worse sounding demos, so I can easily handle it if only the songs are OK. But they’re not really that good either. I’m afraid all the tracks from “Into the Gates of Insanity” are mediocre and uninteresting. GUTTED didn’t impress with any ideas or riffs they putted on that demo. First of all, every song is ridiculously long – up to 8 minutes even – so they just bored me to death. I can’t really catch what the band wanted to achieve with these over-lengthy song structures. I can hardly remember any cool riffs or ideas from it anyway, which is bad. But the other problem is also that it only seems to be brutal, while in reality the entire demo is just lifeless and also the tempos don’t change almost at all. It’s very monotonous, only occasionally, like in the beginning of “Comatosed” the band came up with some decent, even slightly melodic riffs, which I liked. GUTTED obviously was taking a lot of influences from Dutch bands (GOREFEST), as well as such acts as CANNIBAL CORPSE and MONSTROSITY, the vocals really reminds me Martin van Drunen’s style, which is probably the best aspect of this debut demo. But in the end I can’t find it as entertaining as I wish it could be. But try to get it anyway, as it may be a cool and very rare addition to your demo tape collection.
Best song: “Communion”
Final rate: 45 / 100
Disease (demo 1993)
Recorded: Demo recorded at RT Audio, Detroit Michigan, January 1993
Recording line up: Mark Ditch (voc/bass), Mike Ditch (gtr), Scott Ditch (drums)
Arrghhhh!!!!!!!!!! This is where all the slaughter with GUTTED really began! As much as I didn’t feel impressed by “Into the Gates of Insanity”, “Disease” demo only makes me happy and headbaning!!!! This is truly fuckin’ great shit and maybe even one of my favourite US death metal demos of all time. The production of “Disease” is simply killer. It’s ultimately brutal, energetic and fresh, giving the desired (hellish) fuel to every sound / riff / drumming / vocal part. With such sound GUTTED could easily record a full length – no wonder then that all these demo recordings were later re-released on “Gutted” CD from 1997. And the songs… Yeah, GUTTED developed a lot since the debut. The songs are shorter – two are 3,5 minutes long, other two are slightly over five minutes, but luckily each is full of ideas, tempo changes, great and memorable riffs and catchy, brutal parts that they create a perfect demo. Stylistically it’s typical American death metal I guess – if you’re into bands like BAPHOMET / BANISHED, DEATH from “Leprosy” LP, SUFFOCATION from “Human Waste”, MALEVOLENT CREATION, this is an offer for you. Although I have an impression that GUTTED really paid a lot of attention into catchiness of their songs – sure, they’re damn brutal and pure mosh-friendly shit, but the riffs easily stick into the mind, as well as the vocal parts and even choruses – the one for “Death Before Dismember” is the best example. Most of the demo is also played in mid paced tempo, hardly ever in really fast blasts. But I love it – songs like “Bleed”, which starts with totally brilliant, very slow and heavy motif  – probably my favourite riff from the demo – which easily develops into yet another groovy riff slaughter. And there’s catchiness all the time – it’s really infecting; here’s another track, “Chopped Up At the Altar” – you’ll get hooked by its opening riff straight away. But my favourite song definitely is “Death Before Dismember”. It’s got everything and is just damn good piece of groovy death metal – massive, slow opener, great chorus and little faster parts. So yeah, “Disease” is just wonderful demo. To be totally honest, I think it hasn’t got any faults – this is pretty much perfect piece of death metal and one of the very best (!!!) demos I’ve ever heard.
Best song: “Death Before Dismember”, “Bleed”
Final rate: 95 / 100
Bleed For Us To Live (CD 1994 – RED LIGHT Records / GUTTED Music 2007)
Recorded: Recorded & mixed at RT Audio. Produced by Rob Tylak & GUTTED. Engineered and mixed by Rob Tylak. 2007 version remastered by Mark Ditch at COLLABORATORY Studios.
Recording line up: Mark Ditch (voc/bass/keyboards), Mike Ditch (gtr), Scott Ditch (drums), Billy Mills (Lead & Rhythm gtr)
Shit, it's really hard to believe that such a devastating album remained so unnoticed and I myself haven't even heard of GUTTED until 2008! The only explanation I can find is that I'm not the only one, as this album must have had really shitty promotion at the time of its release. Real shame, as nowadays I can say it's one of the best (!!!!) death metal albums that came from the American scene at the time; it even equals such masterpieces as "Leprosy" or "Human Waste". From my first listen of "Bleed For us to Live" I was hooked, these claws from the cover caught my guts and ripped them unmercifully. Absolutely killer stuff. Before this CD, GUTTED has released two demo tapes - first one "Into the Gates of Insanity" was pretty much weak and dull, but the second demo called "Disease" was a sign that this is a band to watch. The music was truly phenomenal and this debut album is just same, only with better production and even more killer songs. GUTTED hasn’t changed their style at all since that demo – actually “Bleed For Us To Live” is a natural successor of “Disease” and simply develops the style from it. Here’s the same catchiness, the same fantastic groove, massively brutal parts, mostly mid or slow paced, hardly ever really fast – but they did play some blasts, which just massacre like in “Chock Full of Guts”… Really lovely stuff. GUTTED used the same RT Audio studio and they knew what they’re doing. This place gave them fantastic production and this album has even more brutal sound. You can hear it especially with the vocals, which seem to be bit more guttural. “Bleed For Us To Live” contains ten tracks in total – only few of them are really new, as there are basically all the hits from “Disease” demo. I must admit it was wise decision to put them here also, as these songs simply deserve to have place on a full length. New compositions aren’t any worse and kill with equal strength. Pure relentless force, with such amazing and memorable tunes as “Death Before Dismember”, “Skeletonized”. Any surprises? Not really (hmm, maybe an acoustic fragments in “Flood of Blood”?). I love the way GUTTED composed their songs, with so many great ideas, many hooks, quality stuff and no fillers. All that created an amazing album, which I would never consider as boring. I could listen to it and listen forever, without any signs of boredom. I also like the titles of these tracks – truly classic for death metal like “Chock Full of Guts” or “Kickin’ the Corpse”, not to mention “Death Before Dismember”. Well, I guess I like everything about GUTTED. It is just a fuckin’ must to have. Hmm, the only complain I can think of is the way this album is released. I have a feeling that somehow the version of CD I have is a re-release done by the band, but it's done so poorly that it disappoints. No lyrics, no booklet, nothing what normally should come with such an album.
By the way, the CD I have seems to be a re-release, from 2007 I think, which would be OK, if it wasn't the fact that the lack of usual booklet - with lyrics, photos, etc - really dissapoints. It's just one page basically, very simple and poorly looking.
Best song: “Death Before Dismember”, “Skeletonized”
Final rate: 95 / 100


  1. I am married to one of the gutted

  2. I'm here today remembering my friend Mike Ditch.

    I grew up in the NW Ohio death metal scene & was there for the rise of Gutted. In fact, I still have my original copy of the Disease demo. I haven't kept much from this era of my life but Disease was always a gem to me - one that defines my youth... going to as many metal shows as possible. I'm not sure how many times I saw Gutted but I saw them a ton... my first metal show at the Cypress ( I think they were still Demigod) - they played with Disgust & Brian Norwalk's band at the time - he was another talent. & everything from all ages shows at Fremont to opening for Unleashed in Toledo (with another good band from that era Demented Ted) to many Michigan Metal fests, & shows in Cleveland & Columbus. The Ditch brothers were the real deal. I remember hanging out with them after shows & they were always open to talking & hanging out. One of the best days, was hanging out at the radio station I DJ'd at - I remember Scott talking with me about the nonmetal bands that he liked. I was a lot younger than them so I found it really cool that they wouldn't just brush me off as some little teenager.

    I think there was a problem with the record label they had signed to which made them loose their footing. Also, I honestly never cared much for Billy's style - which I found too flashy especially in a band like Gutted that wasn't about being flashy at all. Locally, I felt like they took a little bit of a hit taking Billy on - he didn't exactly come from a Death Metal background. I always wished they could have found a different guitarist maybe they thought Billy had James Murphy like technical abilities... He was technical. I thought Mike was the best though. Mark's grooves were the jam too which really set Gutted apart from the rest of the scene.

    Metal kind of stagnated & the scene started failing apart.. Death metal was hit hard as Black metal became the soup du jour. There were bands with gimmicks in the mid to late 90's trying to do something new but it just wasn't the same. Bleed for Us to Live is a great piece from it's era. & I'm happy that I was there to witness the band at their best. Even though I did prefer them as a 3 piece.. Live shows is where Gutted really shined. They just ripped.. the songs were catchy & just plain impressive.

    & I agree with you.. Gutted was one of the best 2nd wave American death metal bands. I followed the scene just as passionately as anyone else; the midwest had some talent but Gutted were extra special.

    Later in life after the Death Metal scene completed faded away I worked with Mike in Toledo for about 5 years. We both had a whole lot less hair than we use to... I was always stoked when he came through my department & had to fix some computers or something. Really, I was always trying to hang out with him as much as I could as I still had much admiration. I'd ask him if he was playing music & he said that him & Mark still sometimes recorded songs but it was a lot different than Gutted. It was fun to reminisce with him about the cast of characters from the local scene. He was somewhat shy to talk about the old days but I think that was just his personality. I remember the day after work when I saw some guy plow into Mike's Geo Tracker when we were all leaving.. I jumped out of my car hoping Mike was OK - which he was.. But, he was the kind of person who I never wanted to see comprised in any way. Mike was pretty much the opposite of what his music projected... He was gentle & sweet.

    Unfortunately, he recently passed on due to a rare & aggressive form of brain cancer. He was still young. I sympathize with his wife, brothers, family, our old co-workers, & with the rest of his fans... of which he will always have many.

    1. Hello there
      Sorry, I don't even know what's your name... but I want to thank for sharing with us this letter on this page and letting us know that Mike passed away, Although he wasnt active in death metal band for years, he surely have made an impact on many souls, with some awesome music he recorded. So I am very saddened to read he died. RIP. I will share these news.

  3. Replies
    1. Cheers Mrs Ditch - Glad to know you read my post - best wishes!

  4. I just came across this as I was reminiscing at work about the old days. I just figured even though this post is old I would add my memories of the days when Toledo was the center of my metal universe.

    I first heard Gutted on WXUT and was immediately hooked. Their sound was brutal and still very catchy. I would call in to the station night after night to ask them to play Flood of Blood, I even taped it off the radio so I could jam it as I didn't yet have the CD. After a few weeks I hear that they are playing a gig with Unleashed (Still on of my favorites) and Demented Ted.

    I got a ride from my Mom downtown as I didn't have a licence yet and went to the show. Gutted was awesome and I was blown away. The rest of the night crushed as well. I approached the merch table, who knew that shortly that would be my seat, and bought a shirt, I wanted a long sleeve as well but the guys didn't have any with them. After finding out that we lived near each other we made plans for me to go over and get one from them latter in the week. I was floored I was actually going to their house!

    We hung out and became friends from that. Next thing you know I'm over at the house all the time. Those were awesome days. Memories I'll never forget, like when the lizard died and we put in the grill on the front porch only to be discovered months later, or when the snake got out and crawled under the couch cushions as I slept. But moving day has to be one of the funniest memories for me.

    Scott's bedroom was on the second floor and he had a waterbed. Probably one of the last people in America with a waterbed, and Mark and I were tasked to move it. After sever attempts to drain and move it we ended up tossing it out the second floor window. Needless to say Scott was not pleased.

    The shows continued to happen and by this time I was roadie/merch and lights guy. But mostly I was just honored to hang out with four guys who were a hell of a lot of fun and amazing musicians.

    When we toured it was one of the greatest times in my life, the six of us, packed in a tiny RV driving across the US and Mexico, Mike playing La Cucracha over and over on the RVs musical horn as we drove through the streets of Juarez.

    Every one had their own personality but Mike, Scott, Mark and Billy were great to hang out with and through the years I was luck enough to know them they left a mark on my life forever.

    I miss those days of shows and parties and basement band practices. To this day I listen to Bleed almost weekly and it is still one of my favorite DM albums. I started as a fan, became a friend, worked at Shamrock with Mark and Scott, got to go to gigs, eventually grew apart and moved away, got old had kids, but to this day I am still a fan. And I'll never forget the days when Toledo was the center of my metal universe.