Everyone loves a tragedy, so long as they aren’t involved in the thing. People crowd around TVs after wars break out, maniacs go on shooting sprees, or cities burn. We cannot possibly have enough bloodshed and horror, and you even can see that when you drive on a highway and there’s a terrible wreck on the other side of the barriers. Everyone is rubber necking to see that one.
I guess I understand the appeal. Or at least the lure. People want to see exactly what happened. They want to have a reaction to something. They want to see suffering that doesn’t directly involve them. It’s human to indulge in pain. That’s why death metal works so well for many people, myself included. It’s ugliness personified, basically, a chance to encounter something so awful and miserable but have no threat of being consumed by the thing. We get close enough to avoid being burned. I kept thinking about this for some reason when listening to “Morbid Throne,” the crushing new record from Alabama-based death squad Grave Ritual. It’s so dark, morbid, and hopeless, a complete scrape with the underbelly of hell, that it made me wonder why I love death metal so much and why this particular record was striking all the right, terrible chords. I guess I’m not so far removed from the people who consume tragedy via mass media. It just resonates, as does this band.
Grave Ritual have not reported back in some time with a record, their last arriving in 2010 with “Euphoric Hymns From the Altar of Death.” So it’s nice to have these guys back, who also ply their hellish trade in horrifying Abysmal Lord (whose new record “Disciples of the Inferno” is out Nov. 27 on Hells Headbangers). On this new album, the band—guitarist/vocalist Ryan Evans, bassist Bane Wolfgang Donohue, guitarist Matt Bokor, and drummer Jeremy Berry—whips together nine terrifying tracks that spread over an economical 31 minutes, making it an ideal serving size. You get just enough of this madness to keep you satisfied and just a little bit bruised up when all’s said and done. Plus this stuff is just vicious, often hurtling out of control and spitting chaos right at you. Damn, it’s a good time.
This terrifying journey opens on “Baleful Aversion,” a dark, doom-filled piece that grinds away until it launches into a blistering death assault. The infernal fury keeps going, leading into a strange groove highlighted by raspy growls and guttural stomps. “Autonomous Death” is smeared and filthy, with the tempo causing panic and general discomfort. The growls scrape, with the patterns causing nauseous jerks and the power blasting out. “Adversary Crown” is full of meaty riffs and brings the filth along with it. The vocals are thick and mauling, while the band applies thick layers of horror and then thrashes away relentlessly. “Invoker of Heathen Gnosis” is the best song title on the record, and the band tears out of it with faster playing and growls that are purely abrasive. The pace grounds your face into the cement, with strong soloing blaring, the power torching your flesh, and the gears slowly twisting and turning toward its finish.
“Tyrant’s Hammer” is clobbering, with the vocals delivered at a faster clip, making them sound even more out of control, and the rest of the band mashes heavily. Eventually, Evans conjures some horrific shrieks, soloing erupts and lights fires, and the crunchy pace of the song delivers the final blows. “Masters & Slaves” is punchy and chaotic, with the band chewing up everything in front of it and spitting out the bones. The song takes on a burly tone later before unloading more demolition. “Lewd Perversities” has an ominous tone to start, with dark riffs bubbling up, furious crunch leading the way, and the back end of the song just pulverizing. “Behind the Reigns of Gods” clobbers, creating an ugly ambiance that’s also weirdly catchy. Not pop hook heavy or anything. But there’s plenty to feel here and get your emotions going. The track takes a vicious turn as it develops, and the growls are smoking and bloody. Closer “Throne of Continuum” has guitars spiraling from the start, with grim growls emerging, the pace of the song lurching, and the guitars wailing away. Evans emits some final pained groans, and the track comes to its ultimate resting, bringing your charred nerve endings along with it.
Grave Ritual’s aim is true and misery inducing on “Morbid Throne,” a record so dark and furious it is bound to satisfy every need within you to witness real human horror. Yeah, it might not be a bloody accident scene or a building exploding, but it’s the next closest thing. This band’s unbreakable chokehold on death metal has been sorely missed, and who knows when we’ll hear back from them after this? So clutch this record and realize you are in the grasp of real blood-and-guts pain.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/grave.ritual
To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/