Sunday, April 23, 2017

Gruesome – Fragments of Psyche

After two releases, Gruesome finds themselves in a precarious position. With “Savage Land”, they created the most authentic Death worship to ever exist, but on “Dimensions of Horror”, they took it too far. The songs went from paying tribute to Death to straight-up ripping them off. “Fragments of Psyche”, their next EP presents an opportunity to reinvent themselves by moving deeper into Death’s career. The target this time around is “Human”, and much to Gruesome’s credit, they’ve rediscovered how to be inspired by Death without stealing their riffs this time. The title track on this album could be an unearthed gem from the “Human” sessions and no one would ever know (aside from some slight production differences). The unique intervals and riffing style that characterized this period are in full form on “Fragments of Psyche”, and one can’t help but be impressed by Gruesome’s commitment to perfecting this sound. 

And then there’s the rest of the EP. The remaining 6 tracks consist of a cover of “Choke On It” (one of Death’s most underrated songs, as it has insane harmonies and bouncy riffing), and 5 demo tracks of songs that appeared on the band’s debut. Unfortunately, as a purchase, this is all somewhat worthless. “Savage Land” practically is “Leprosy”, so there’s no real value in covering a song from that album. There are some slight differentiating elements to make it sound as though it was written in the "Human" era, but nothing all that major. Additionally, the demos don’t sound all that different from the final product. Ultimately, it makes “Fragments of Psyche” appear to be a very padded release. There’s only 4 minutes of real substance on this 31-minute EP. That doesn’t mean you should avoid it, but rather just pickup the one new track on iTunes and move on (or get the 7-inch, which has only the original song and the cover). Gruesome once looked like a promising project, and the potential is certainly still there, but the band should work on making another full-length record of songs that use Death’s tropes, and not their riffs. It likely doesn’t even matter which era they pay homage to, as Gruesome has the talent to pull all of them off; they just need to be more focused, and stop releasing things for the sake of releasing something.

Be sure to check out and like Gruesome on Facebook!

Highlight
"Fragments of Psyche"

Final Rating
3.5/5 or 70%. 

Written by Scott

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Obituary – Obituary

Out of all of the old guard of death metal, Obituary deserves some serious respect for taking one of the riskier routes to making this music: adding groove and plenty of slow parts. Of course, they still have plenty of raging songs, but no band takes quite the same stripped-down, barebones approach to death metal that Obituary does. Though the quality has wavered throughout the years, there really hasn’t ever been a bad Obituary album, and things were trending upwards with “Inked In Blood”. The band’s new self-titled record once again shows considerable improvement, as the band has cut the fat that plagued their previous release, resulting in a concise, hard-hitting offering of death metal.

The core elements of Obituary’s sound are still in tract. John Tardy’s maniacal growls remain one of the band’s most defining characteristics. One might think that his voice would begin deteriorating over time, but he sounds sicker than ever. Surprisingly, his enunciation is improving, and it’s actually getting easier and easier to understand the violent lyrics he’s spewing out.

Of course, the band’s groove tendencies are still in place on “Obituary”, but they seem much more toned down. There isn’t even a hint of them amongst the first two tracks, and several songs are just pure speedy death metal. Even when they are rumbling along, such as in “Lesson In Vengeance”, the songs manage to be so catchy that it really isn’t all that much worse than the quicker efforts. 

There isn’t too much to be said about Obituary at this point because they’re such a known entity. At most, it’s worth pointing out that casual fans of the band should check out this record because it’s probably their third best album after the first couple of records. It doesn’t really suffer from any of the problems that occasionally plagued their other releases (excessive length, too much groove/not enough speed, boring songwriting, etc.). On a side note, having had a chance to see the band live for the first time recently, it’s clear that Obituary is even superior in a live setting than they are in the studio. The heaviness of their crushing breakdowns and groove riffs is amplified on stage, and the result is death metal bliss.

Be sure to check out and like Obituary on Facebook!

Highlights
"Brave"
"End It Now"
"Ten Thousand Ways To Die"

Final Rating
4.1/5 or 82%. 

Written by Scott