heavy metal

GRUESOME Twisted Prayers Review

Band For a band that was initially founded as a side project and still has all of its members participating in other metal bands, Gruesome has stayed quite active in the last few years. Exhumed guitarist/vocalist Matt Harvey’s “Death tribute band that writes their own songs” has created quite a buzz in the underground, and while they can’t touch the band that gives them 99% of their inspiration, you can’t help but feel the itch to stay in tune with them. June 2018 kicked off right with an instant slab of brutality that came in some form other than weather. Rather, it was the release of their second full-length album, Twisted Prayers. As the title and artwork suggest, this album is Gruesome’s answer to Death’s 1990 effort, Spiritual Healing. While it does sound closer to Spiritual Healing than anything else, you’ll also find plenty of traces of Human, some traces of Leprosy, and even a few Kreator-esque moments.

The death penalty cut, “Inhumane”, is a solid opener that wastes no time jumping into death metal fury. “A Waste of Life” is Gruesome’s “Low Life”—describing a soulless, evil, selfish character that assuredly springs to mind at least a couple of people that you’ve encountered in your life. The song has a very heavy introduction and the pre-chorus is a perfect example of one of the album’s touches of Human. The solo on “Fate” has an almost bluesy feel to it that effectively takes a brief break from the Chuck sound. It’s unlike anything you’ll ever hear from either band. “Crusade of Brutality” is one of the lesser tracks because instead of merely writing in the style of Death, they go as far as to blatantly attempt to re-write “Leprosy”. The song’s riffs and structure are so strikingly similar that even an outsider who couldn’t tell the difference between any of metal’s sub-genres could listen to those two songs and notice that they were trying too hard. Luckily, the song’s solo does offer up some originality. Other times, they rehash Chuck’s lyrical themes, like on the aforementioned “A Waste of Time” or “At Death’s Door”—a song that describes the miserable pain of living in a vegetative state (“Pull the Plug”, anybody?). Gus Rios’s drumming is entertaining and adequately captures the Death drum sound, with “Fatal Illusions” being one of his strongest moments. Daniel Gonzalez’s guitar solos are the best thing about the album. Song structure is also a strength for Gruesome, because they alternate tempos numerous times in each song without losing a touch of heaviness. The harmonic leads that they dive into are often the most unexpected time changes.

This album did not leave me thinking, “Wow, this could be the best album of 2018!”, but it’s still worth hearing and discussing in a conversation about all of the year’s metal-related happenings. I liked Gruesome’s earlier work better, partly because I like Death’s first two albums more than Spiritual Healing, but primarily because I felt like the songwriting could have used more effort this time around. If you’re going to consciously sound like another band, at least use ideas that sound like what they would come up with, rather than replicate something that they already wrote. Be sure to go into it without expecting it to be as wonderful as Death and you’ll probably enjoy it. With the absence of the late Chuck Schuldiner in our world today, the metal underground is clearly grateful to have a rip-off around to continue his style in the 2010s, as they should be. Tell that to Matt Harvey, though, and he might defensively quote those immortal words of Liam Neeson—“It’s not a rip-off, it’s a homage!”

7.5 out of 10

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Tags:  GruesomeReviewTwisted Pairs  

    October 05, 2018

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