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Review: Gruesome - Savage Land
Savage Land

Label: Relapse Records
Year released: 2015
Duration: 35:37
Tracks: 8
Genre: Death Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: September 27, 2019
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers Rating
Savage Land

Rated 4.44/5 (88.89%) (9 Votes)

Gruesome formed in 2014 with the sole intent of being as much like Death as they could, and to their credit, I don't think I've ever seen another band work this hard to look and feel like them. Everything from their logo to their CD layouts to even the style and framing of their album covers look like they could have been made by Death in some other timeline (go look at this side-by-side with Leprosy if you don't believe me), and it doesn't just stop with aesthetics. The vocals are a dead ringer for Chuck's, the lyrics read like his older stuff, the songwriting follows the same beats, on and on and on. There isn't a square inch of this album that doesn't have an idea Death had decades ago. This kind of imitation would be insufferable if it were half-heartedly done with cynical intent, but Gruesome go at it with the same kind of energy and passion Death did when they first started out.

This album bows low before the aforementioned Leprosy, as it employs that same pugilistic, Thrash-tinged, slightly technical feel of that great album. The riffs may not be quite as good as Chuck's were, but then few are, and the solos on this are fucking killer. Hell, they not only had the sheer balls to name a song "Closed Casket", but they even got James Murphy to contribute the solo for it. You either have to be really fucking stupid or really fucking good to pull that kind of homage off, and that song, along with other highlights such as "Demonized" and the murderous "Gangrene", proves that they're definitely fucking good.

There's an argument to be had that a band shouldn't get praised too much for just copying other bands before them, but if they do it as well as Gruesome do, I'm willing to overlook a lot of that. If you love older Death and wished they made more albums like Spiritual Healing and Scream Bloody Gore, then you should know that Gruesome agreed and decided to make those albums on their behalf instead, doing a damn fine job in the process. Recommended.

Other related information on the site
Review: Twisted Prayers (reviewed by MetalMike)
Interview with vocalist and guitarist Matt Harvey on August 23, 2015 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
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