Pissgrave
Suicide Euphoria

A sideways glance at the save-some-room-on-your-plate-for-gravy artwork and scraggly logo adorning Philadelphia’s newest dirty needle slingin’ export Pissgrave might lead one to assume that they’re looking at one of the innumerable third-tier groups that sit forever unsold clogging up the CD racks at metal fests. A second look reveals the Profound Lore logo tucked away on the back cover and that’s where a few questions start to bubble up through the slowly coagulating slime.

The Canadian label has a solid track record of death metal releases under its belt including Dead Congregation, Disma, Vasaeleth and the upcoming Cruciamentum album but even so, what outwardly appeals to be no-budget goregrind seems a bit off the mark for them. Now I’ll readily fess up to occasionally falling victim to lazy thinking and letting artwork alone dissuade me from listening to an album and y’know, that very well might have happened here… if I had not been so fortuitous as to witness these lads twice last year opening for Dead Congregation. Having had the opportunity to wallow in the mucusy goodness of their gangrene-stricken brand of death metal, and having promptly snagged a copy of their 2014 demo tape, I thought had a pretty good idea what to expect from their full-length debut.

Well it turns out Pissgrave haven’t deviated from the template set forth on that demo, which up to now was their only release, but they’ve improved upon it in such dramatic fashion that they’ve immediately elevated themselves from the ranks of obscure opening act to releasing a strong end-of-year list contender for anyone who likes their death metal hepatitis-riddled and unabashedly aggressive. There are a mish-mash of readily identifiable influences pulling in different directions on these songs but they’re subtle enough, and thoroughly integrated into the band’s own sound, that this never comes off as “just another Swedeath band” or “yet another McEntee-core Incan clone”. It’s to the band’s credit that they eschew those two well-trodden paths completely, and I say that as a huge fan of Left Hand Path and Onward to Golgotha, and pursue a direction that is decidedly more hostile.

The first thing brought to one’s attention is the production which, at sufficient volume, immediately makes its presence known as a filthy, roiling caustic stew being funneled at high pressure directly into your ears. Thankfully everything is clearly discernable in the mix despite the abrasive tones but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that such a gritty sound will furrow the brows of many and have them reaching for the stop button. War-mongers Revenge spring to mind for possessing a fellow hostility towards the listener and the similarity doesn’t end there. The intro to fourth track “Fields of Scattered Bones” wouldn’t sound out of place on their last album Scum.Collapse.Eradication as the kick drums give way to guitar strings being scrapped and eventually those vocals (which I’ll get to in a minute). Elsewhere “Impaled Vibration” kicks off with a lurching jackhammer riff that brings to mind Deicide’s earlier days. The tendency to intersperse moments of pure grinding terror among the more measured death metal riffs recalls underrated fellow Pennsylvanians Circle of Dead Children.

The vocalist utilizes dual microphones and what sounds like filters applied to one, or perhaps both, to achieve a simultaneous high/low effect that while clearly artificially enhanced (and thus potentially off-putting to “purists”) fits very well with the music. This approach again recalls both Deicide and Revenge although Pissgrave’s vocalist is far less intelligible than Benton and thus strongly negates the opportunity to hum along to these tunes in the shower… but you probably already guessed that didn’t you?

On Suicide Euphoria, Pissgrave have produced a minor classic of raw death metal. They’ve avoided succumbing to the worn-out familiar tropes that many newer bands fall into and haven’t sanded down any of the acerbic edges that caught my ear when I first saw them last fall. Highly recommended for those masochists among you who take joy in such corrosive sounds.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Ryan Skow
September 18th, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: gordeth

    Great review! This is some nasty stuff. Anyone know what a pissgrave is exactly? Is it a grave that’s been pissed on? Or, is it when someone dies and rots in piss, which looks like what might’ve happened to that poor fellow on the album cover.


  2. Commented by: E. Thomas

    yeah, very nasty


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