Album: Twisted Prayers
Label: Relapse Records
Genre: Death Metal
Release Date: 01 June, 2018
If you are unfamiliar with Gruesome, they are basically a Death worship band. They have taken their love and influence of Chuck Schuldiner’s legendary music and brought it into the current era. Now I don’t want this to sound like I’m bashing the band for being derivative, they even use specific Death records as the concept of their LPs and EPs. Their first LP Savage Land was in the vein of Leprosy, while their following EPs Dimensions of Horror and Fragments of Psyche were structured like Scream Bloody Gore and Human, respectively. This could be considered a gimmick and very easily could come out sounding schlocky, but Gruesome takes their music and Death’s legacy very seriously.
Gruesome’s newest output is their second full length titled Twisted Prayers, in the ilk of Death’s Spiritual Healing. Even using the same artist for the album cover, Ed Repka, a true legend in metal artwork. Gruesome has incorporated more socially conscious lyrics in their newest effort that gets their message across in a blunt and honest manner. The instrumentation has also gotten more sophisticated on this release. The drums provided by Gus Rios have a cerebral pattern in many tracks that keeps you on your toes and makes sure you’re giving the songs the attention they deserve. The bass-lines will ride along in the back when necessary, but are just as willing to explode in the forefront driving the song forward. Robin Mazen has a very enjoyable style in both her bass playing and the bass tone, reminiscent of Dan Briggs of Between the buried and me, it’s one of my favorite components of the album. It should come as no surprise being a Death inspired group, that the both the guitar riffs and solos curated by Matt Harvey and Daniel Gonzales are astounding.
The opening track Inhumane tackles the death penalty. From the start Gruesome is here to hit you with harsh realities, whether you are comfortable with it or not. This song is mainly pointing out the hypocrisies of sentencing someone to death; violence begets violence. The song begins as aggressive as one could hope, a quick drum fill followed by thrashy riffs. After the first chorus comes one of my favorite parts of the track, the drums start this crazy syncopated rhythm behind a mesmerizing clean tone guitar section.
The following track A Waste of Life was the first single released for this album. On the surface this could be seen as another anti-religious metal track, but it goes deeper than that. A Waste of Life isn’t bashing religion or anyone who believes in it, this song is aimed directly at villains who use religion as a tool to exploit other people. This album and this song are filled with blunt realities, but this song has the bluntest moment of them all: “The time has come for you to face the truth, you are a piece of shit. Fuck you!”. This track could even be aimed at political figures now that I’m analyzing it further, either feels fitting. The song itself has great riffs, and the bass tone really shines on this song. The dueling guitar solos on this track are one of my favorites parts of the entire album especially combined with the bridge that follows.
The last song I’m going to highlight is another lyrically heavy, but relevant track. Fatal Illusions is an anti-mass shooting song. The word choice there is extremely important. Gruesome isn’t trying to take a stance on gun control in any way (neither am I, this is not the place), they are simply against the mass shootings. And in their own words …”if you think that there’s anything controversial about that, you can fuck right off.”’ All that being said, this song is in your face throughout the entire runtime. The lead clean riff goes at a blistering pace, that is only slowed down for a mournful sounding guitar solo.
I have one main drawback from Twisted Prayers, it is a front loaded album. I don’t have a single song on here that I dislike including the cover of Possessed’s The exorcist (Finishing the album with a cover in true Death fashion). However, the first half of the album feels a lot stronger to me. A lot more of the A-side tracks were sticking with me and leaving a lasting impression. Another negative I could sympathize with is people being put off by the Death worship, but I don’t find it egregious, instead i think it is well-executed. I still can go back to old Death albums, but this is a fresh take on the sound.
K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid. A cliche, but an oft-ignored one. Gruesome may be going back to basics by using Death as their foundation, but they have done it with respect, honesty, and skill. Whether you are unfamiliar with Death or a rabid fan, Gruesome has opened the time capsule from 1990 and given it a beautiful modern polish. This is a band worth keeping your eyes on in the future, and I can’t wait for their take on the Sound of Perseverance, my personal favorite Death record.
RIP Chuck Schuldiner
2. A Waste of Life
4. Lethal Legacy
5. Fatal Illusions
6. Crusade of Brutality
7. At Death’s Door
9. The Exorcist
Total Playing Time: 47:54
I’m pretty great. Just ask me, I’ll tell ya.