Gravehill – Death Curse (Dark Descent)

Monday, 17th March 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

Having reorganized their house after the departure of Exhumed members Matt Harvey and Bob Babcok, California death metal outfit Gravehill have returned with their third full-length in the form of Death Curse. Playing a non-regionalized brand of DM (read: they’re nowhere near as frothy as Autopsy), the band’s appeal lies in the simplicity in which they present their songs, not to mention the snarled, dog-on-a-chain vocals of Mike Abominator, who has one of the more identifiable vocal blends in American death metal.

There’s the predictable, but necessary vintage shacking-up across the album’s nine songs, so cue the Scream Bloody Gore, Venom, and punk scuttle of Discharge as being the band’s noticeable influences. Where else would a dastardly bass-lead romper like “Fear the Reaper” fall into? It’s equal parts vicious death and sing-a-long (or maybe “bark” along?) action, sort of the like the type of song Witchery were getting down with in the early parts of their career. This song aside, the blast-happy title track, “Unending Lust for Evil,” along with the sprawling, change-of-pace “The Ascending Fire” seem to have the most impact, with sawed-off, buzzing riffs, and of course, some feral vocals from Mr. Abominator.

Certainly a band of the authentic variety, without their heads too dug far in the retro sands, Gravehill show off a nice little bag ‘o tricks on Death Curse. Obviously, the band knows what they’re good at, and doesn’t waste much time mucking it up with rehashed ideas, so consider this a relatively head-strong, solid album of no-messing-around death metal.

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