Grave Infestation – Persecution of the Living Review

There’s a very particular set of sounds one expects to hear when spinning an album by a band called Grave Infestation. You certainly don’t go in looking for polish or subtle compositional finesse. With all that fully known, I was still surprised by just how raw, nasty, and grisly the music was that hit me upon diving into Persecution of the Living. As the band’s debut offering, it’s quite the ferocious death statement, stitching together the rotting carcasses of Autopsy, Obituary, Consuming Impulse-era Pestilence, and Hellhammer. Upon this wretched rock they build their evil church, layering eerie atmospheres and coating it all in noxious, scabby murk, and the result is sub-basement tier old school death loathsome enough to curdle fresh moonshine. And you know what? I fucking love it. That’s because this Canadian crew of creepers know how to write songs that stick to the crypt wall and stay with you, even when you’d rather they didn’t. That’s what good death metal should do!

After a scratchy, disturbing intro ripped straight from Italian horror cinema, the graveyard bludgeoning begins in earnest with “The Conquest of Pestilence.” It’s like a primitive beast with a bone club whacking you in the cranium for three minutes and you’ll love every second of it. The riffs are killdozing and meaty, the guitar flourishes reek of early Possessed and the vocals are so low-fi you’ll want to try excavating them. It’s a gnarly, grotesque spectacle and you will be entertained and repulsed. The title track is exceptional, utterly scuzzy and doomy like Scolopendra one minute, then dropping the righteous deathhammer of aggression the next. It feels so filthy and greasy, you’ll want a long disinfectant shower after every spin. It’s ugly and it smells bad.

Other outstanding moments of disgust include the brutal onslaught of “Can You See the Pale Horseman in the Distance,” which is like a berserk mash-up of Consuming Impulse material with Slaughter’s immortal ditty “Fuck of Death.” It clubs you mercilessly then shifts into something like gruesome death n’ roll before collapsing into crushing doom riffs with enough awful weight to push you into the Earth’s core. “Plague of Crypts” is also a standout with a vast collection of hulking riffs and seasick tempo shifts designed to shake you up and grind you down. There are no filler tracks, though “Human Jigsaw Puzzle” hits less intensely than its peers despite a strong Leprosy era Death vibe. Persecution of the Living is a tight 37-minutes and it’s entertaining and easy to digest in one sitting. It isn’t original in any real sense and much of what they do had already been done by 1990. Still, they’re very skilled at abusing the tried-and-true OSDM tropes and the songs have sick hooks that stick in the flesh.

Graham Christofferson’s vocals are a treat if you love the wretching, gurgling madness of Chris Reifert and John Tardy. He’s got a menacing low-register death roar and while he doesn’t offer much versatility in delivery, he’s ideally suited to the swampy, shitty sound the band is going after. He and BC rip and tear on guitar, churning the cesspool with furious riffs and ginormous death stomps. They interlace all these eerie little guitar flourishes that reek of classic horror movies and lend the album a dark, macabre vibe without the need to include endless movie samples a la Mortician. Anju Singh beats the unholy snot out of her kit to round out their simple and brutally effective sound, and she’s a good grinder when the music turns slow and hefty (see “Death of the Last Individual” especially).

Grave Infestation are a new act doing old things very well, and Persecution of the Living has everything a death metal fan craves. It’s godawful enough to give you an ear infection and this is how new death metal acts should introduce themselves to the metalverse. If you want to feel dirty and contaminated, Grave Infestation is your toe jam. Let it fester, you grave bastards.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Invictus
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: June 3rd, 2022

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