Gruesome
Savage Land

So I’m sure by now all of you know about Gruesome, the classic Death homage act fronted by Matt Harvey of Exhumed and joined by members of Possessed, Malevolent Creation and Derketa. What you don’t know, if you have not heard the album by now, is exactly how fucking spot on Savage Land is in it’s recreation of Scream Bloody GoreLeprosy and Spiritual Healing to the point where it’s almost a cover album.

I mean, as if the familiar looking Ed Repka cover art, the logo, the song titles (“Closed Casket”, “Gangrene”) were not enough, there are moments in every song that are direct nods to classic Death songs. For instance, the opening title track is clearly a nod to Leprosy‘s title track, “Trapped in Hell” is a version of “Defensive Personalities”, “Psychic Twin” is “Living Monstrosity”, “Closed Casket” equals “Open Casket” (duh) and maybe “Choke on It”, “Demonized” is “Altering the Future”, “Hideous” has “Leprosy’s” main riff, “Born Dead’s” melodic solo and “Gruesome” opens with a killer ode to “Spiritual Healing” and so on. It almost becomes a game or challenge spotting the references, and that’s just the obvious ones. I’m sure more astute Death fans than I will pick up even more. As if that was not enough, the deluxe version of the CD has an actual Death cover of “Land of No Return” (as well as Slayer‘s “Black Magic”).

But it’s done with so much respect, aplomb and obvious love (as evidenced further by Harvey’s involvement in the Death to All tours), there’s no rip off vibe here. Harvey nails the vocals, especially some of the pained screams and growls and the solos are also Schuldiner reincarnated, to the point that it’s almost eerie. The production nails the tone also, though with a slightly crisper overall sound updated for 2015.

Bands like Morfin, Skeletal Remains, Undead and such have certainly got the Death sound perfectly, but with Gruesome, Harvey and co. have taken it to a whole other level and has delivered the ultimate worship of early Death and Chuck Schuldiner. But I’m curious to see how the rest of the band’s discography plays out for possible future releases. Will they recycle Death songs again and run out or maybe shift homages to other classic US death metal acts? An Autopsy homage maybe? It should kill either way.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 20th, 2015

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