Gruesome – Savage Land (Relapse)

Tuesday, 14th April 2015
Rating: 8/10

With all of the bands currently out there blatantly copying the old school death metal masters (of which Death certainly qualifies) and never quite owning up to it, does it truly make a difference if one band stands up and says, “We are copying Death?” In the case of Gruesome, it absolutely does. Yet another supergroup, this time composed of members from Exhumed, Possessed, and more still, the simple acknowledgement that their goal was to simply recreate the early Death records makes it easier to see that the band is having fun at what they are doing.

Just because the band is forthright with this admission, it doesn’t mean that the album is automatically declared a success on that nugget of information alone. Simply stated, Savage Land is one of the most lively and memorable retro albums in recent memory. Does it sound a lot like say, Leprosy-era Death? Absolutely (even down to Matt Harvey’s best Chuck Schuldiner-like vocals), but the copycat factor doesn’t make the thrashy old school Floridian death feel sound stale. The riffage is energetic and bouncy, something that most retro acts often forget when they pen their latest Death/Entombed/etc clone. There’s the groovy fun of “Closed Casket,” thrashy death riffing of the title track, and gnarly soloing to boot (see “Gruesome”). It’s quite easy to blast through the entire album without knowing it, with each track keeping you quite engaged.

To say that the metal scene is oversaturated with OSDM is an understatement. Which is all the more surprising that an album like Savage Land is actually impressive. A clear-cut case of a band that is passionate about doing what they do, as opposed to jumping on the bandwagon and putting out a disc of half-hearted junk. Gruesome is the real deal, and should be an easy sell to all of those Death (and old school DM) fans out there.

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