|Review: Gravehuffer - Your Fault|
Label: Reality Impaired Recordings
Year released: 2017
Review online: October 23, 2022
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Rated 4/5 (80%) (4 Votes)
I don't typically pay attention to the underground scenes around my neck of the woods, as they tend to range from nonexistent to largely dedicated to ripping off Black Label Society, but every now and then I come across a band down here that truly surprises me. Gravehuffer are among these bands, hailing from Joplin, Missouri of all places, and their sophomore album, Your Fault, may well be one of the most pleasant surprises I've come across in some time.
Describing the band is a little trickier than the given genre might imply. They're definitely working with a Death/Grind base that leans harder on punk than average, but it's what they build off of it that makes them so unique. You still get more straightforward punky numbers like "Of Fish and Men" and the brutally short "Dead Peace," and you even get some Death Metal crushers like the opener "Gravehuffer" and "Kill for Sport," all of which are given life with furious, chugging riffs and the odd harsh vocals of leading man James Hisler, which are typically a strange compromise between a death growl and a punk bark that manages to be more versatile and engaging than that may sound. However, they'll just as quickly do something truly unexpected that catches you off guard, like the startling melodic leads on the back half of the otherwise punky "Shut Up and Skate," the chain gang chanting that opens up album closer "Chains Around You" that flows seamlessly into grindy bashing before slowing down to a dragging crawl in the end, and even pounding, epic riffs and wailing backing vocals on the massive album highlight "Destroyer of Worlds." On paper, this album should be a shambling mess of half-baked ideas, but Gravehuffer's real strength is the fearless trust they place in their songwriting, showing some surprisingly strong musicianship and even lyricism in spots that connects with their more simple and direct segments seamlessly across the entire album without ever feeling unnecessary or out of place.
I don't typically like Death/Grind, I'm leery of any punk influence in Death Metal, and the idea of experimenting in a framework encompassing both sounds like a nightmare to me by itself, but here we have Gravehuffer matching up with all of that and making music that's inventive and sincere, capable of balancing between light-hearted fun and smoldering brutality as they smash your face straight into concrete. Impressive shit right here.
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