The first track starts in a very unexpected fashion, with darkly melodic Doom riffing and clean female vocals that sound quite ritualistic. It’s a bold start to the album and when the song starts “proper” it doesn’t disappoint.
Calling Black Magic Fire Death Metal is a bit of a disservice in a way, as there’s a lot more going on here than just a straight ahead Death Metal album. Bringing to mind a mix of bands like Usurper, Venom, The Meads of Asphodel, Cathedral, Celtic Frost, Gravehill, Black Sabbath and Dismember this is a strong release that captures an occult feeling and channels it through a Heavy Metal core with a Death Metal exterior.
The band have that Old-School Death Metal style going on but there’s also more than enough Classic, Heavy and Doom Metal touches/riffs to go around. This means that the album is incredibly well-rounded and complete. Back this up with a set of very solid songs and you have an album that is extremely impressive in nature.
When I mentioned The Meads of Asphodel earlier it was because I hear echoes of this band in the vocal department and the vocal patterns/rhythms; Crucifyre have the same talent for catchy rhythms and Blackened shout/growls that have a similar character and personality. Semi-clean vocals even make an appearance and these are just great.
Albums like this are more than just one style; this release has a plethora of weapons with which to ensnare the listener and hook them in. The brutality is rhythmic and this is very song-oriented so that each track has an actual identity rather than just taking up space. The personality and character of the vocals spills over to the music as well and the passion and fervour of the band for all things Metal is never in doubt.
This passion is backed up by talent though and they ably pull off everything they try, whether this is the cleaner sections, the ugly brutality, the catchy songs, organs, sound effects, impressive solos or the female enhancement; it’s all performed and delivered at a masterly level.
There’s enough here to appeal to almost any Metal fan. This is Metal as it should be done. I love it.
Gravehill will shortly be releasing their new album Death Curse which is chock full of top quality Death Metal riffage and mouldy corpse-bothering. I asked some questions while Thorgrimm and Abominator stank up the place…
Hi, for people unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself.
Originally formed in 2001 as a three piece and within the same year recorded “The Practitioners of Fell Sorcery” demo and as quickly as it began, the original line-up disbanded soon after the début demo. In 2006 GRAVEHILL reformed with original drummer & founder Rhett “THORGRIMM” Davis and vocalist Mike Abominator, “the brains and heart of the current GRAVEHILL.” Over the course of 2007-2009 GRAVEHILL released 2 CDs with ENUCLEATION Records… the “Metal of Death” / “The Advocation of Murder and Suicide” CD/EP and the “RITES OF THE PENTAGRAM” CD. Soon after the RotP CD release with ENUCLEATION Records, the label folded, leaving both releases free. They were later given to IBEX MOON Records for a combined release of “Metal of Death / Advocation & Rites of the Pentagram” CDs adding a live DVD to the package as well!
By the summer of 2010 GRAVEHILL toured the U.S., added a new guitarist Matt “Hellfiend” Harvey (EXHUMED, DEKAPITATOR, REPULSION) to the line-up and by 2011 played the 9th annual Maryland Death Fest supporting their sophomore record “When All Roads lead to Hell” CD with DARK DESCENT Records (www.darkdescentrecords.com).
2012 began with a line-up change, by adding 2 new full-time guitarists known only as CC DeKill & Hell Messiah to replace Matt Hellfiend & Bodybag Bob due to their momentous touring schedule for EXHUMED.
2014 sees GRAVEHILL deliver their most stripped down and powerful release to date. On April 1st, 2014, GRAVEHILL’S “Death Curse” will be unleashed on CD/Digital formats (vinyl soon after) through DARK DESCENT Records. Over 35 minutes of powerful death metal in the old vein including guest appearances from some of the biggest legends of death metal (Chris Reifert and Eric Cutler of Autopsy and Kam Lee (Massacre, Death and Bone Gnawer). “Death Curse” includes artwork by another legend, Christopher Moyen (Incantation, Blasphemy and more).
<ABOMINATOR> Thorgrimm just put our “BIO” here because we are dead tired of answering this question…….. NEXT!
What are your influences?
<THORGRIMM> VENOM, AUTOPSY, MASSACRE, HELLHAMMER, BATHORY, SODOM, 80’s SLAYER, etc. We are influenced mostly by 80’s and early 90’s Heavy Metal, Speed Metal, Thrash Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal, Punk and Crust Punk. In most reviews we are called “Black/Thrash Death” or some variation of that. We just call ourselves Death Metal, everything we play is that to us, but call it whatever you want.
<ABOMINATOR> We are the FLEETWOOD MAC of death metal. Except we aren’t witches dancing around in sequenced moo-moo dresses and we don’t get fucked by penises dipped in cocaine like good Ol’ Stevie Nicks. I would say that I have a better voice than that stuffy ass, friend egg tits Christine McVie as well. Although it would be pretty cool to have a 34 inch cock like Mick Fleetwood. I think he fucked Stevie, Christine AND Lindsay Buckingham all at the same time didn’t he? Maybe even got a piece of that John Weasel Wort or whatever his name was on bass. Wasn’t that fucker in those Harry Potter movies?
What are you listening to at the moment that you want to recommend?
<THORGRIMM> Autopsy – The Headless Ritual / Rose Tattoo- Assault & Battery / Hail of Bullets – The Rommel Chronicles / Venom – Possessed / In Solitude – Sister / Wasp – Inside the Electric Circus / Behold! The Monolith – Defender/Redeemist / The Upper Crust – Let Them Eat Rock
<ABOMINATOR> Axegrinder-Rise of the Serpent Men/ Rea Respirator-Slapp Loss Alla Band Tape/ GBH-City Babies Attacked By Rats/ Tygers of Pan Tang-Wild Cat/ Demigod-Slumber of Sullen Eyes/ Sweet Savage-Take No Prisoners/ Scholastic Deth-Book Attack/ Lubricant-Swallow the Symetric Swab demo/ Bloody Phoenix-Ode to Death/ Peter Gabriel-So/ Warsore-ALL/ Roky Erickson-Don’t Slander Me/ Machetazo-Ruin/ Hellnation-Thrash or Die/ Nuclear Death-Wake Me When I’m Dead demo/ Agathocles-VNA split/ Mastication demo ’91.
<THORGRIMM> We started the writing for the album in mid-2012′ after we got things rolling with CC & Hell on guitars. The songs came together pretty quickly, and by early 2013′ we had the entire album written along with jamming some cover songs we’d been doing for fun. We recorded all the drums with John Haddad at Trench Studios (who had recorded us in one way or another on our first 2 albums), we recorded all guitars, bass and vocals in our home studio with our guitarist CC at the helm and gave the final tracks to Dan Ochoa to mix and master. We took more of an active role in this album than all previous, we had the opportunity to take advantage of what we couldn’t before. We tried for a couple years to get art from Moyen and had the cover done by him a year before the album was done simply cuz he was available then, again we took whatever advantage we could when we could.
<ABOMINATOR> Right now we can tell you that it’s the best thing that we have ever done. Until we get sick and tired of it and the next album comes out. Wait, we are already sick and tired of these songs. Oh well. Just go buy the fucker so we can take our drugs and fuck our hookers.
How are the songs written?
<THORGRIMM> Unconventionally. Most bands have a chief writer or a writing team or whatever. We just get together in rehearsal, and start woodshedding ideas. Starts with one idea/riff and then we all contribute to that idea/riff, somehow a song gets arranged out of it. Hopefully one day we can just sit around, drink beer, listen to AUTOPSY, GG ALLIN & SODOM and write an entire record in one afternoon. Maybe the next one?
<ABOMINATOR> We can shit and fart out ideas all day and night. Oh and puke them out too. Death Metal should be done this way and THIS way only. Some of these new “death metal” bands sound like they come up with their 137 ideas in some fancy lab of some sorts. Carefully piece stuff together with a fine toothed comb. We just use the blood and semen that’s on our hands, rub it in your face and start the fucking heavy metal. Our songs smell worse than we do.
Tell us about the lyrics.
<ABOMINATOR> My diatribes that I put together for this band keeps me out of prison. That being said, I’m not “singing” about butterflies, saving the world or my failed relationships from 1998 that I still cry about. It’s a heavy dose of hell, throw in some Satan and top it off with a lot of cursing and there you have it. This shit just spews out of me like a puss filled zit. I then spread that pus all around until everything is covered. God loves ugly. Good thing God also fails and I don’t give a fuck what he loves. I LOVE TO SMELL MY OWN FARTS.
Are you pleased with the way Death Curse ended up sounding?
<THORGRIMM> I think it is closest to what we wanted to achieve then what we’ve done before. We want the drums to sound like drums, the bass is in the mix, and the guitars are heavy and raw. Having better gear helped this time out also, as well as not cutting corners on what sound we want to hear. Also the recording work CC contributed was a major factor also.
<THORGRIMM> We don’t fit into any “scene”, in fact is there really a “scene”? There is an ongoing misunderstanding of what “Death Metal” is, due to so many stupid sub genre’s, the whole genre is confusing and overrun by hipsters with opinions I could give 2 shits about hearing. Nothing against the DIY collective, all those who bust their ass to get headbangers in the door, buying the merch and keeping the gigs alive, all the power to them. I’m just one of many in a band in the Greater Los Angeles area who is a part of the madness. Does GRAVEHILL have anything to prove? No. We are exactly what we are, Death Metal. If anyone feels the need to challenge that, go for it and eat a dick while you’re at it.
<ABOMINATOR> FUCK THE DEATH METAL SCENE AND FUCK ALL SCENES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Do you think there’s life in the maggot-ridden corpse of Old-School Death Metal yet?
<THORGRIMM> I’m a long time fan of Motorhead and AC/DC, which at one time or another have been bad mouthed by the media (past & present). Words like “Boring”, “Unimaginative”, “Unskilled”, “Barbaric”, “Primitive”, “Raw”, etc… These 2 bands haven’t reinvented the wheel. They are the fucking wheel! These bands don’t need to apologize for who they are, they do what they do and do it well and are happy doing it. That’s my point of view, GRAVEHILL is not here to provide something new, something innovative. We let the jazz pussy’s do that. So to answer your question more directly… don’t care.
<ABOMINATOR> DEATH METAL ETERNAL!!!!!!!!!! LIFE SUCKS SCUM FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!! We will fuck and eat the pussy of that corpse. WE LOVE OLDER WOMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What does the future hold for Gravehill?
<THORGRIMM> Gigs to support the release, we have a short run with DIOCLETIAN in May booked so far. We plan on making a pro music video for one of the songs on “Death Curse” next month. We’d like to release our own 7″ EP and a split 7″ EP in the future also but circumstances have prevented that by no fault of our own, but we will not stop trying. Any labels and bands interested, come our way.
<ABOMINATOR> I look forward to a really good shit in about 30 minutes from now.
After the usual perfunctory intro we get blasted into the action with the album title track.
The band play their Death Metal morbid, primitive and ancient. The vocalist sounds like a long-dead corpse who has risen up to assault the living with tales of what they have to look forward to when they die. Both high screams and deeper growls are used, with the higher vocals sounding particularly deranged.
Gravehill combine fast and slow riffs with their twin-pronged vocal assault to create unexpectedly catchy songs, a consequence of their Thrash influence creeping into the mouldy Death Metal. The guitars are solid and heavy with momentum and aggression but also a good bit of crusty Thrash melody, while the solos are whipped out at hyper-speed and get the job done.
A thoroughly enjoyable album full of catchy hooks and memorable riffs. Let Gravehill’s festering carcass enter your life and take a good long whiff.