Gravehill have been a crusted conglomeration of classic extreme metal influences for well over a decade, yet their fourth and latest full-length ‘The Unchaste, The Profane & The Wicked’ almost feels like a rotten stump slapping the reset button on thier sound. Ah well, don’t get me wrong the core of the Gravehill sound will always be some permutation of black metal, death metal and morbid thrash but this record sounds almost entirely different for good reason. Although the drum seat is eternally filled by original and founding member Thorgrimm their ex-Exhumed ex-guitarist is now on bass, the bassist is now the vocalist and the guitarist from Ibex Throne has been the lead guitarist since the 2016 ‘Skullbearer’ EP. I think there is one more guitarist but who can keep track. All of the musical chairs being hopped has lead to a distinct increase in rotten death metal theatrics and Hellhammer-spawned riffing that is decidedly less smooth-assed black metal in terms of guitars.
So, whatever you thought of Gravehill in the past these rhythms are still coming from the same point of inspiration but their rituals feature different voices. The ‘Haunting the Chapel’-esque intro and shrieking leads of “Bestial Genesis” feels like some kind of rapturous nod to Sadistic Intent before the opening bars of “Iron & Sulphur” kick into a riff worthy of a ‘To Mega Therion’ refrain. It surprised me a bit and recalled the first time I heard Darkthrone‘s ‘Panzerfaust’ and the likewise frosted “Triumphant Gleam” jumped out the speakers at me with a huge TGW riff. It sets a great tone for the rest of the record and much of it’s remainder smartly pulls influence from their most primal influences for an aggressive death/thrash attack with an ethos not unlike Usurper‘s ‘Diabolosis’.
There couldn’t be a better reintroduction to Gravehill‘s sound as the band instills some of their previous sound into songs like “Plague Hammer” though a lot of the smooth edges of ‘Death Curse’ are roughed up to the point of resembling an early 90’s demo-only band. Like maybe if Divine Eve went more aggro and less doom after ‘The Last of the Sunset Faded’ demo. My favorite track here is “The Profane” as it best represents the thrash, death, and speed metal influences laced throughout ‘The Unchaste, The Profane & The Wicked’. Though it might sound dick-headed to say but Gravehill have done what I think Crucifyre were aiming for (and missed) on ‘Post Vulcanic Black’ earlier this year. They’ve found a horrifying medium between old school Satanic metal and their own extreme and relatively modern sound. Probably my favorite thing from the band so far.
|Released||March 16, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow Gravehill on Facebook|
Death Metal, Black Metal,
Smell the burning bones. 3.5/5.0
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