Graveworm
Killing Innocence

Italy’s Graveworm has been around since the mid/late 90s, plying their form of gothic/ melodic black/death metal, and by all accounts have been a pretty respectable act over their career. They found themselves on Nuclear Blast Records with 200s Engraved in Black when the label was saturated with the likes of Agathodaimon, Godgory, Sculpture, Crematory and Dismal Eophony– all similarly sugary, catchy, over-produced mish mashes of styles that Graveworm fit in perfectly with at the time.

Unfortunately my only strong recollection of the band, despite being somewhat familiar with their largely ‘Ok to solid’ discography (arguably peaking with 2001s Scourge of Malice – which got them signed to Nuclear Blast and  2005s  (Nu)topia) was 2007s Collateral Defect, their last Nuclear Blast Record, and with good reason- it sucked…..hard. I don’t remember where I reviewed it but as soon as I saw this promo come across my desk, I instantly subconsciously recalled my Collateral Defect review from all those years ago and physically wretched a little bit. Maybe it was just the cover of Bonnie Tyler’s “I Need a Hero?”

So, being older, more mature, and hopefully wiser, I thought I’d give Graveworm another go after the three albums I have missed since Collateral Defect, where the band delivered a super commercial, almost pop metalcore-ish take on their blackened/gothic metal. Face your fears so to speak.

Well, Killing Innocence isn’t terrible, let’s start there. Now, I can’t compare to the last three efforts (2009s Diabolical Figures, 2011s Fragments of Death, and 2015s Ascending Hate), but the Internet tells me those three are better than Collateral Damage and more in line with their early work. And that appears to be what Killing Innocence delivers; classic 90s Nuclear Blast melodic black/death metal with a gothic touch.

The album has a nice big, lush production. The riffs are big and crunchy with the occasional spurts of blacker metal ferocity. The keyboards are front and center (guitarist Steve Unterpertinger has taken over keyboard duty from long-time member Sabine Mair since Ascending Hate). The rasped/growled vocals of Stefan Fiori, (who along with Unterpertinger are the sole remaining original members) are solid. It’s all here in all its classic 90s/00s glory.

And that’s it- it’s here. I don’t hate it. I don’t love it- even with my current symphonic metal addiction. The opener “Escorting the Soul” is pretty much all you need to listen to, to determine if you will like this Graveworm album. It’s such a middling, inoffensive style. It lacks the sensual bite of Cradle of Filth, the full-on theatrics of Dimmu Borgir, or even the symphonic bombast of say…… a Welicoruss.

But the songs are solidly written, sometimes a little more vicious (“Wicked Mind”, “Where Agony Prevails”, “Wrath of God”), sometimes a little more gothic/doom-y ( “If the World” Shut Down”, “End of Time”), sometimes catchy, often settling into a foot-tapping mid-paced plod (i.e. “In Honour of the Fallen”, “Dead Words”, “A Nameless Grave”- the latter two of which could be modern slower Hypocrisy tunes), and I do not dislike any of the songs at all.

Killing Innocence is one of those releases that I’m not rushing out to reorder or even buy when it comes out, but If I saw it for $7 in a used bin a couple of years from now, I’d say “Oh, cool! good find!”, jam it for a bit and add to my CD collection.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
May 1st, 2023

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