I have fond recollections of 2017’s Subconscious Lobotomy, so was pleased to see this band’s debut album appear. It’s 43 minutes of old-school death metal that’s influenced by the death metal greats from the 90s, while not being particularly beholden to any of them – bands such as Bolt Thrower, Amorphis, Gorefest, Autopsy, and Obituary are useful reference points to get an idea of the kind of territories that Ruinous Ensoulment reigns over, but Gravewards have their own character.
I noted on the band’s demo that I enjoyed the occasional bursts of sharp technicality, war metal groove, winding death/doom melodies, and thrash metal bite that appeared here and there in the music, and the same is true of this full album. The difference? Everything on Ruinous Ensoulment is delivered in an even more forceful and confident way.
The singer’s voice sounds like a force of nature, tearing out from the songs and into your head. He comes across like a mix of the singers of Bolt Thrower and Obituary while screaming into the abyss, and he leads these songs ever forwards while the powerful music provides ample backing substance for his roars.
Operating from a diverse range of old-school influences and putting them together into a coherent, well-written musical framework with its own identity is not an easy thing to do, but I’m pleased that Gravewards have managed to do just this. Ruinous Ensoulment is a very well-realised and satisfying release, especially for a debut album.