Thursday, 12 April 2012
[ALBUM REVIEW] Graveyard - The Altar of Sculpted Skulls
Genre - Death Metal
1. The Altar of Sculpted Skulls
2. An Epitaph Written in Blood
4. Cult of the Shadows
5. Ritual (Re-recorded)
6. Howl of the Black Death (Re-recorded)
Spain isn’t exactly the world’s most renowned hotbed for Extreme Metal, Black and Death doesn’t really appear to have much of a presence from our Iberian neighbours. Still nevertheless there are occasional gems that bubble to the surface from time to time, GRAVEYARD being one of them. It’s been two years since their debut “One With the Dead” which was to be blunt fucking devastating, and they’ve just unleashed upon the unsuspecting their newest EP “The Altar of Sculpted Skulls”. And those who loved the debut will be pleased to hear that nothing has really changed, they’re just as deranged and ferocious as before, if not even more so this time around.
Looking at the artwork, I’d almost be tempted to buy this for that alone. Of course it also helps that the music present on this brief EP is Death Metal straight from the top drawer. The first four of the songs here are new while the last two are re-recordings of the tracks from the split with TERRORIST which slot in alongside the new material seamlessly. So for those not in the know, GRAVEYARD extract the shameless groovy brutality of early nineties Swedish Death Metal and fuse it together with the tentative Doom-Death oppression of ASPHYX. If that doesn’t whet your appetite then you’re a rubber eared false.
The sound on this release is nothing short of punishing, a filth laden steamroller that’ll grind your bones to dust, and then reverse back over you again for good measure. The guitar work is fantastic, thick pulverising riffs with an altogether arcane tone are frequently followed by some outright sinister cascading lead work which together with Gusi’s flagellating and vigorous drumming and Julkarn’s booming grave dredging gutturals make for some extremely inspiring music.
Even on ‘An Epitaph Written in Blood’ you can hear the ENTOMBED influence vividly, especially in the beginning before you’re trampled under a huge annihilating riff made of all kinds of awesome. This is pretty much par for the course for all the material present here, extremely claustrophobic Death Metal littered with shredding solos, surging riffs weaved into passages of sheer pedal to the floor speed and slower ASPHYX-esque dirges. The intricacy of some of the drumming and guitar work is simply stunning, and the way the vocals are half submerged by the blizzard of everything else likewise.
It doesn’t stick around for too long but “The Altar of Sculpted Skulls” is exhaustingly good. Death Metal hasn’t been in a form as good as this in many years, and GRAVEYARD are another band to add to that list of promising young acts currently making waves. If frenetic, morbid and downright repulsive Death Metal is your thing, then you could certainly spend your money on a lot worse. If you want innovation and melody then you’re looking into the wrong place. Their next full length will definitely be something to watch out for.
Sounds like - Asphyx, Entombed, Unleashed
Originally written for The Metal Observer