Gravefields – Embrace the Void Review

Gravefields - Embrace the Void 01Life kinda sucks. Or, I suppose more accurately, the realization that I have no control over how everything changes despite my every last effort to keep things stable kinda sucks. Unexpected alterations to my goals and plans abound. I question decisions I once thought sound, only to later circle back after realizing the alternatives were ill-fitting. Those close to me change in ways I fail to anticipate. Introducing further complications, change and impact others in ways they can’t anticipate. It is because of the relentless fickleness of life that I appreciate the things that remain consistent. Thank the abyssal lords who art burning in the depths of hell, death metal is often one of those things. And Gravefields, an Irish/French/Egyptian (respectively, one guy from Ireland, one guy from France, and the band as a unit operating/recording mostly out of Cairo) death metal band supply ample evidence supporting this claim with their “debut” record—the pair released an album two years ago under another name, DirtyprotestEmbrace the Void.

As I Embrace the Void, one thing becomes immediately apparent: Nile made some excellent death metal when they wanted to. Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-KaAnnihilation of the WickedBlack Seeds of VengeanceIn Their Darkened ShrinesIthyphallic? Those were good times. Some of you may not remember those times, but Gravefields remembers and are unafraid to take many a page out of those accursed tomes. In order to prevent pigeonholing themselves into copycat status, the band infuses a subtle line of melody into their thick death metal stew, not unlike a certain Lovecraftian monstrosity many of us fell head over heels for last year. A tried and true combination of blackened rasps and burly roars make up the bulk of the vocals, but like many modern death metal albums released these days, harsh cleans make regular appearances as well. A meaty vein of Swedeath further differentiates Gravefields from their ancestors, and of course they unleash about fifty metric tons of high-quality riffs to make it easy to forgive these guys for sounding like other guys you’ve heard a thousand times.

Speaking of riffs, opener “Phychoactive Rites” leaves nothing to the imagination for the listener as to what’s in stock. It’s a pummeling piece of Nile-istic glory and right away I knew this record would hypnotize me. “Chemical Rampage” and “Mind Leech” are particularly effective in this regard. Between the blackened tremolos providing a sinister backdrop and countless Swedeath riffs dripping with mystic melody and compelling vocals summoning infernal hordes I had no chance of getting out of this unscathed. As if on cue, “Voices Above” crashes down and crushes me beneath chunky riffs and slightly off-kilter drumming. Multi-instrumentalist Alan Hurley and vocalist extraordinaire DM know exactly what I want my death metal to be, and they deliver in astonishing form across the entire record.

Gravefields - Embrace the Void 02Unfortunately I cannot shake the feeling that I won’t retain Embrace the Void as completely as my immediate enjoyment of the material would suggest. The biggest detractor to this record’s memorability is homogeneity. While every riff is good-to-great, they often share interchangeable structures, making it difficult to pick out standout moments from memory (“Psychonaut’s Inferno” serves as a good example of this phenomenon). The same holds true with the melodies decorating the background of most cuts, which almost universally follow the same template (the beginning of “Narcotic Warfare” being a notable exception). Following that is the fact that fatigue starts to set in after the start of “Psychonaut’s Inferno.” The last three songs, while well constructed and enjoyable, don’t have that intangible allure of many other tracks offered and therefore close the album out on a somewhat flimsy note.

Imperfections aside, you couldn’t possibly go wrong with death metal like this. Gravefields may have only established themselved in the last year or so, but already I find myself highly anticipating their next move. Embrace the Void is likely to miss my year-end list, but I enjoy it just as I enjoyed those that came before, and to experience such reliable gratification from an established formula like this is nothing short of refreshing.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Redefining Darkness Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: June 7th, 2019

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