Those familiar with the career of Anders Biazzi, know he’s one of the premier death metal riff maestros active today, and his Blood Mortized and Just Before Dawn material offer ample proof of said mastery. Recently Mr. Biazzi decided to close shop on Blood Mortized and launch a new project called Gods Forsaken with the help of death drumming institution, Brynjar Helgetun (The Grotesquery, Megascavenger etc.) and well-traveled vocal demon, Jonny Pettersson (Wombath, Just Before Dawn, et al). We’re a bit late in covering their debut In a Pitch Black Grave, but don’t take that as apathy or indifference. This is yet another tooth kicking, gut stomping slab of mega-heavy Swede-death mixed with Bolt Thrower worship and it exists only to scour your soul, scrape your ear canals and pulverize your kidney stones (thanks for that last one, by the way).
Anders wastes no time putting the boot to you with the opening title track’s vicious riffage, propulsive, unrelenting momentum and root-cellar dweller death vocals sure to please even the most elitist death troll. Sure, some riffs recall the halcyon days of Entombed and Dismember, but there’s an awful lot of Bolt Thrower here, especially when they slow things down at the song’s mid-point for some ten-megaton grinding. This all calls to mind Gatecreeper‘s recent opus, and that’s a very good thing. “By Hate He Comes” follows with a more typical d-beat drive-by, but it’s a particularly savage and pummeling one with excellently savage vocals by Pettersson, and “Ashes of the Dead” robs the best parts of Clandestine‘s crypt for a sodwolloping beat down full of slashing riffs and thunderous drumming.
“Curse of the Serpent” is an album high point, starting life with a tasty riff Unleashed should have penned in 1993, and the berserk vocals just keep getting more frantic and incoherent as things rip along. The unhinged nature of the song brings it close to vintage Desaster for over-the-top insanity, and that means a ton o’ fun. There’s even a bit or Morbid Angel‘s “Where the Slime Live” style ooze mixed in for extra viscosity and infectiousness. Later cut “Souls Torn Apart” rolls like a Panzer division over all your earthly belongings, only to pause long enough to uncork an unexpected and striking melodic solo full of emotion, which really stands out on an album full of unbridled aggression and rage.
At a tight 42 minutes, In a Pitch Black Grave is a frenetic, entertaining slap in the face with an iron fist ov steel. Most of the songs run between 3-4 minutes, delivering a fast attack aural wedgie you’ll be hard-pressed to unwedgify. Besides the highly enjoyable song craft, the biggest asset here is the production. This album sounds exactly how a death metal album should. The guitar ruthlessly oppresses your rights and freedoms and the drums feel like a massed artillery battery blasting away with bloodthirsty abandon. There’s a fat low-end thud grounding everything and the overall balance is just right.
Mr. Biazzi demonstrates yet again that he’s a living, breathing riff factory, and through his caustic leads, all the demons of Sunlight Studios come crashing back into this dimension like Lovecraft’s hideous elder gods. Yet this feels heavier and more powerful than the typical Entombed clone. The thick, diesel-powered riffage could join the battle on any Bolt Thrower platter and hold their own. Anders also handles the bass and gives the music a meaty foundation upon which to construct his barbed wire riff edifices. Jonny Pettersson is a first-rate death croaker and delivers the goods with a phlegmy, crusty and demonic performance that perfectly complements the hostile music. Gurgling, gargling, caterwauling, screeching – he does it all with power and lunatic glee. As always, Brynjar Helgetun scorches the countryside with a thunderous turn on the kit and the drum sound is particularly powerful and satisfying. This is a band of seasoned veterans and it shows on every song.
Gods Forsaken is doing absolutely nothing new but they nail this classic style so hard and so righteously, lack of originality doesn’t matter quite as much. Even in a time when there’s a endless supply of Swede-death acts buzzing around the scene’s carcass, this sticks out and somehow even manages to feel refreshing. This is headbanging, face-melting death metal to buoy the spirit and anger up the blood, with no pretensions and zero innovations. It’s just you and the remorseless wargrinder, face to face on a muddy, corpse-strewn no man’s land. Resist you must not.