Tuesday 12 May 2015

Gruesome - 'Savage Land' (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 21/04/2015
Label: Relapse Records

Savage Land’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Savage Land
2. Trapped In Hell
3. Demonized
4. Hideous
5. Gangrene
6. Closed Casket
7. Psychic Twin
8. Gruesome

Gruesome is:

Daniel Gonzalez (Possessed) | Guitar
Matt Harvey (Exhumed, Dekapitator) | Guitar, vocals
Robin Mazen (Derekta) | Bass
Gus Rios (Ex-Malevolent Creation) | Drums


Name the best death metal band of all time.... there are a few contenders. These days, a lot of people polled would answer: “Death.” While that is a debate for another day, Gruesome exist in the shadow of, even in thrall to all things Schuldiner. Actually, I should say “two things Schuldiner” as this album worships at the altar of only two records from the man's glorious discography. Which two? Not ‘Symbolic’ or ‘Individual Thought Patterns’. Think ‘Leprosy’ and ‘Scream Bloody Gore’. To hear this record is bizarre; it is EXACTLY like listening to a modern update of those two records. It really is eerie. All this is totally understandable, formed as they are from a veritable who's who of DTA musicians (form Exhumed, Possessed and so on).

There are superb moments here; “Demonized” just rips, the guitar riffs and melodies are excellent. Truthfully, there are no bad tracks here; you get dramatic intros, solos, thrashing drums and vocals with a very similar phrasing to Chuck in his late 80's prime.

It is ferocious, relentless and really will take you back in time to when you first heard ‘Leprosy’ or ‘SBG’. Make no mistake, it is not as if the Schuldiner legacy needs this record, as his body of work speaks for itself (all the records are good and some I would run out of superlatives for), but it is nice that there is a such a direct line to that era and that it has been so well done. The riffing in “Gangrene” is pure Schuldiner (except that it isn't) while “Closed Casket” is death metal as it really used to be. There are no blast beats here as this is a strictly old school affair. To call this album a pastiche is to do it a disservice; facsimile might be a more appropriate term.

To sum up, if you enjoy early period Death then this album is a must, because on those terms it absolutely slays. If you want late period death... will the band follow the same career path?! The mind boggles at the possibilities. In the here and now, ‘Savage Land’ is that rarest of beasts: a consistently old school death metal album made in the modern day that doesn't outstay its' welcome and just melts your face.

Words by: Richard Maw

‘Savage Land’ is available via Relapse Records or from any good stockists

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