US band GRAVEHILL has a history that goes back to 2001, initially releasing a small handful of EPs prior to making their full length studio debut in 2009. Since then three more albums have seen the light of day. “The Unchaste, the Profane, & the Wicked” is the most recent of these, and was released in the spring of 2018 through US label Dark Descent Records.
As one might suspect by the band name and album title, Gravehill is a band that makes their presence known within the metal realm, and in the more extreme varieties of that scene at that. As far as orientation is concerned we are talking old school here, a band that looks back to the time and age when extreme metal was first formulated as a genre. Basic, almost primitive sounding, in approach as well as execution.
Barked growls dictate the vocals department throughout, rough and suitably evil sounding for this type of music, but always expressed in a manner that makes it easy to understand what the lyrics are. A rougher, more primal version of the vocal style Tom Fischer has used might be a good description. The rhythm section is solid, but strikes me as perhaps a bit basic. Those fond of truly expressive rhythms won’t have too much to enjoy here.
The guitars are the main factor here, alongside the vocals. Dark and gnarly, with something of a lo-fi touch to them, they deliver dark foundations and fluctuations throughout, albeit contrasted with some nifty atmospheric laden solo passages and overlays here and there that offsets the more conventional twisted or intense solo runs one would expect from a band of this kind.
The songs themselves tends to alternate between a few different forms, alternating back and forth between an old school extreme metal expression and a more conventional but dark traditional heavy metal orientation appears to be a specialty of this band. At times opting to explore one or the other for the entire length of a song, but generally staying more put in extreme waters than in the traditional heavy metal ones. On a couple of occasions the band will also slow down into more doom metal oriented escapades, which suits the generally dark nature of their music very well.
Personally I did not find this album to be all that memorable. I love and cherish some of the band I suspect have influenced Gravehill directly or indirectly, Celtic Frost can be mentioned as a likely candidate here, and while they do explore a similar sound they have not managed to include a similar charm here. The slight excess in pomp and grandeur that made some of those early extreme metal bands so fascinating for me isn’t a part of what Gravehill takes on. They do have the sound and the feel of those early pioneers of extreme metal rather well covered though, so for those who love and cherish that really old school extreme metal sound, this band and this album is well worth getting more familiar with.
My rating: 60/100
1. Bestial Genesis
2. Iron & Sulphur
3. The Unchaste
4. Plague Hammer
5. The Profane
6. Sabbatic Whore
7. The Wicked