GROTESQUERIES – Haunted Mausoleum (2022)REVIEW

Chopped in half, tossed into a dumpster… without a lid. — With the torso left intact this half of the body still conjures a miraculously throated murmur, an expulse of gaseous bacterial offal steaming past clamped-down vocal chords and through a full face of colorful decay. Leering back from the bottom of a deep blue rust-embalmed dumpster they rest in place with insects for eyelids, eternally cross-eyed in fused expression enough to indicate the extreme thrill of peak intoxication. The mushed but still flesh-like ridge of a smile still holds its pose for what’d had to have been a ride thrilling enough to supersede the fear of death. Swarming with flies, stinking to high Hell, grinning like a maniac without legs to stand on ’til it all melts away by way of vermin and the elements we greet the world of delirious gore-spattered realism purported by Massachusetts-based death metal band Grotesqueries in a state of horrifying corporeal trauma amidst the initial stages of our decay, a state of readiness to rot and crumble beneath their suffocating works of frightening bodily horrors, cruelest criminality, and psychotic riffing mayhem. Their debut extended play release ‘Haunted Mausoleum‘ slaps, chops, wails and blasts through a fine fifteen minutes of groove, horror, and torture in introduction to their above-average approach to classic death metal rhythms.

Grotesqueries began as a solo project circa 2020 from the mind of musician Yianni Tranxidis (GOG) whom is best known for cutting his teeth as stand-in drummer for notable groups Black Mass and Garroted in recent years. In a relatively short period of time the ‘old school’ death metal focused project expanded into the quartet found here on their debut EP, featuring members of thrash, death/doom, and grindcore bands from the Boston area. Horror and true crime themed classicist death metal might sound like a usual suspect to start, and these folks do naturally nestle into the ‘new old school’ realm of revisionist death metal to some degree, but their influences aren’t the usual sleepy garbage and hey, they’ve got riffs. The rhythmic ambitions of these three songs certainly aim for strong variety and I suppose the natural comment to make is that the arrangements are especially fine here for the sake of being penned by an especially strong drummer not content to sit and kick out a farty, half-speed skanked rhythmic for the sake of wearing an olden-timey aesthetic.

The suggestion is that the rotten aggression of the first couple of Gorguts albums, the twist-on-a-dime extremity of ‘Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious‘, and the occasional burst of Morbid Angel factor into the greater register of Grotesqueries and to some degree this makes sense when considering records like ‘Considered Dead‘ and ‘Transcend the Rubicon‘ tangentially for their drum performances and certain aspects of rhythm guitar arrangement, which allows for frequent pace changes and riffcraft which adapts to the rhythm rather than oversaturating it with chud thundertones. We don’t find these sort of elements mixed with heavier grooves, and with any sort of real sophistication, until further down the timeline unless we hop over to early deathgrind and brutal death so, expect the ‘old school’ nods to fit but moreso for something gore-obsessed circa ’94-’96 that’d impress the average ‘Severed Survival‘-enjoyer. Nowadays analogues for these ideas might include the brutality/horror of Scorched and the thrashing terror of Anthropophagous but, on that same token pieces like “From Skin to Sin” aren’t beholden to arcane or classicist notions of brutality and groove, bustling around in a way that’ll feel natural to fans of groups like Tomb Mold as well.

Baseline requirements for proper death metal music include: Great drummer (no drum machine, ever), audible bass guitar tone, varietal pacing, riffs out the ass, actual lead guitar performances (with credits for each solo included in the lyrics), and a vocalist who does not sound like a very old dog (see: Chris Barnes). With these criteria well in place and a keen ear taken to this brief yet eventful ~17 minutes of music I can safely say that Grotesqueries not only qualify for the job but show some serious promise here on this first recording. They could push for more in any direction and still have a solid foundation here within this sound but for my taste the standard set by ‘Haunted Mausoleum‘ would only need to emphasize memorable songcraft to continue to impress me. Thanks to some strong focus on percussive variety the emphasis on brutality is certainly there and appreciated despite the rhythms otherwise presenting a generally moderate challenge with an emphasis on clever-enough hustling around between groovin’ ideas, it all still lands complex and buzzing with inspiration throughout.

Even if I kinda hate the colors they used for the logo on the cover (artwork via Tombtower), I couldn’t be more impressed than I have been as I continue to thumbs-up all the way through Grotesqueries debut EP. ‘Haunted Mausoleum‘ is the exact right way to introduce a proper garage-grinding horror death metal band to the public, a substantial chunk of neatly arranged and well-considered songs that feel very fucking complete and way, way more worth all those repeated spins than expected. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Haunted Mausoleum
LABEL(S):Caligari Records
RELEASE DATE:August 11th, 2022

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