Album Review: Twisted Prayers by Gruesome
DEATH. My favorite. Not only is death the most fascinating subject of all, it is also an awesome fuckin’ band. Fallen metal hero Chuck Schuldiner and his band of misfits pioneered and basically created the genre of death metal. From their 1987 debut “Scream Bloody Gore” through their seventh and final record “The Sound of Perseverance” in 1998, the band spawned countless classic death metal anthems, trademarked the ‘death growl’, played down the most face melting riffs anyone has ever heard at the time, and most importantly; paved the way and inspired hundreds of bands to spread this plague we call death metal amongst the Earth. The 90’s “old school” death metal scene was and is by many considered the holy grail era in the metal world; with countless righteously wicked bands of the likes of Obituary, Deicide, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse… we could be here all night. You get it it. But, only one dude is considered the “Godfather of Death Metal,” and that’s our boy Chuck Schuldiner, leader and mastermind of Death that suddenly died in 2001. In the wake of his death, countless bands and fans alike continue to carry the gore-filled torch he lit… which brings us to exhibit B, Gruesome.
Born from the decomposing remains of Death, Gruesome was formed as somewhat of a side project by guitarist/vocalist Matt Harvey and drummer Gus Rios after their involvement in the Death To All Tours, a tour of death metal veterans paying tribute to death. Yeah, its ben twenty years since the final Death release, and bands are TOURING in their honor to this day. That says something, right? So, basically, the whole purpose of Gruesome’s existence is to pay tribute to Death as well as to fly the old-school death metal flag in a world grossly devoid of such. And to that I say, a-fucking-men, brother.
After being super impressed and nostalgia-ridden from jamming the first released single from this record “A Waste of Life” for weeks before the full album was released, to say I was looking forward to this would be an understatement; and it far from disappointed me. Let me say this, though: if you are not a fan of Death or even similar bands of the age, you will not like this album. It offers nothing new or inventive. It does not even have time to put a “modern” spin on it, no. This is old-school death metal to its rotten core. Gruesome exists as a Death worship act and it serves its purpose in that severed vein only. On the flip side, if you love old-school death metal, you will totally love this record. The point of it is not to provide a new take on the work of Death and the bands that have been inspired by them, it is to pay true tribute and offer a new, killer sounding, old-school death metal record to the rabid fans (like myself) that crave it.
As far as I was concerned, is was sold on the album artwork alone. Done by the almighty Ed Repka, who, if you don’t know, has commissioned literally countless classic heavy metal album covers since the dawn of time; and he came back strong for this one. Based on that alone, I knew I was in for a strictly classic death metal ride. And to that, I say, I’ll take two, please. You see, I may be just a tad biased here because old-school death metal is my motha-fuckin’ JAM. It was the first type of any sort of “extreme” music that I liked. I basically went from listening to Kiss straight to Tomb of the Mutilated by Cannibal Corpse and worked my way around the old school death metal realm from there. SO, when the opening track Inhumane kicked it, I was filled with pure angsty nostalgia and angry excitement all over again. The same is true for the next track.. and the next.. and the next.. and, well not that one.. just kidding. Yeah, it all rules, it’s all the same, it’s all great classic shit.
Twisted Prayers has everything you could want in an old-school death metal record aside from them just being Death. Although there are plenty of cherry-picked riffs from classic Death records heavily reminiscent of “Spiritual Healing” era, you could argue its a little TOO much worship; aka just a cover band. But, take the good with the bad. It has ripping solos, actually pretty great lyrics if you take the time to make them out/read them (just like Death and many other death metal acts that don’t get NEAR enough fucking credit for their lyrics but don’t even get me started on that shit), bass deeper than actual hell, and the wonderfully classic death growl vocals. I mean that pretty much it. It’s basic death metal formula with nothing new to blow your mind except being fun, awesome, and nostalgic. So, why don’t I just listen to the million other 90’s death metal bands, you ask? First of all, definitely fucking do that and never stop. Secondly, though, that’s not the point. Of course all the old shit is there for you to cherish and love forever and that will never go away. Is it AS GOOD as the classic shit? Nothing is! But, if it provides a refreshing sound nostalgic of the great era, and it makes you go back and love on those classic records, whats the harm in that? Gruesome is not here to take away from that or replace that at all, rather just to pay tribute and celebrate that era of music because… well.. someone’s gotta do it. Is it a perfect record? Absolutely not. But take those extreme metal pretensions down, have a beer, and enjoy the sounds of Gruesome blasting through your speakers. Trust me, you wont regret it.
4/5 (because they just ain't Death)
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