Gravewürm – Warbeast/Command Of Satan’s Blade

Gravewürm’s style of black/thrash is one that has almost been forgotten. Most black/thrash is based off modern interpretations of both genres: you combine modern thrash with modern black and off you go. Then you’ve got the South American style bands, with all their sloppiness and raw aesthetics, but these are still somewhat close to that modern style. Gravewürm, on the other hand, hearkens back to a time where everything- or at least death, black, and thrash- was nebulous and undefined, and the label of a genre was as good a guess as anyone else’s. This is a band that sounds nothing like Aura Noir or whatever you likely think of when you hear ‘black/thrash metal’. Instead, these guys go for the pure oldschool edge: Celtic Frost and Hellhammer all the way, and it’s all the better for it.

To say that this music is simple would be a dramatic understatement. This is about as dead simple as heavy metal can get. It’s almost amazingly unadorned: there are almost no fills, no extra chords, nothing but the very most primal and simple elements necessary to communicate the musical ideas. Riffs are almost entirely based on chugging palm-muted chords varied only by a handful of other open ones. The riffs are clearly derived from Celtic Frost, with the same crunch, slightly grooving rhythm, and dark, primitive atmosphere. Drums are similarly simple and almost entirely rock-based. The material is exclusively midpaced, occasionally going up or down from there. There’s very little tremolo riffing and double bass, and literally no blasting at all. It’s very heavy, but not ‘brutal’, and it’s completely and utterly oldschool music through and through. You really cannot go into this release with any other idea but Celtic Frost and Hellhammer worship; anything else is going to lead to you being displeased. It’s binary, one dimensional music, yes, but its writing is great and it functions perfectly in its style. The stuff here is to Celtic Frost worship what Darkthrone is to black metal: a completely pure representation of the style, devoid of any and all extraneous elements.

This CD is a compilation of two releases: the old ‘W.A.R.B.E.A.S.T.’ 7″ and the ‘Command Of Satan’s Blade’ demo, as you could probably ascertain from the title. The former features Don Of The Dead and Jim Sadist from Nunslaughter, and it really is good for the music: the throaty shout/growl of Don is very oldschool and fits the music and drives it flawlessly, while the drums are handled effectively and simply as well. The production is understandably raw, with a rather muffled guitar tone and rehearsal room feel to the vocals. The music is great, though: as usual for Gravewürm, completely oldschool, completely heavy metal, and incredibly effective for the small number of ingredients employed in its creation. The second set of songs has the same general style of songwriting, though vocals have been replaced by a rather strange, almost inhaled sounding, gurgling black metal rasp. Production takes a step up as well: while the guitar tone is a little excessively bassy and distorted, the drums are captured very clearly.

This is an unashamedly one-dimensional style of music. Gravewürm is based off riffs and pretty much nothing but riffs, and if you don’t love those oldschool Celtic Frost chug riffs, you’re not going to like this. It’s black/thrash for the Obituary fan: direct, simple, and very intense. I personally love seeing a band that knows its direction so intimately and strides purposefully towards it like Gravewürm does. There’s a confidence in the music they write and play which says that they know what they’re doing and aren’t interested in changing any time soon. On that note, you probably already know if you’ll like the material present on this compilation: it knows its audience, and you know if you’re part of it. I am.

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~ by noktorn on October 9, 2007.

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