Gravesend – Methods of Human Disposal Review

In a recent review, Sentynel pondered the frankly inexplicable production choices made by his prog metal subjects of the day and their label. He mused that, if “this were a twenty-minute grindcore album, going for the auditory equivalent of a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster [the master] might be at least explicable.” It’s been a while since I last read Douglas Adams’ incredible ‘trilogy in five parts’1 but today I do indeed find myself with a slab of grindcore – admittedly it’s a massive, sprawling 27 minutes long – on my hands. Is the debut full-length from New York City trio Gravesend the auditory equivalent of “having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick”?

Well, first things first, Gravesend’s brick is not gold. Nor is it wrapped in lemon. As the cover image2 suggests, they come armed with a proper brick. A proper, pre-owned brick, streaked with shit and wrapped in razor wire. Methods of Human Disposal, which follows the 2020 demo Preparations for Human Disposal, is the filth-stained tale of the worst sewers of humanity. We are touring Gravesend’s vision of (I assume) New York, in which we fall into graves and pits of human waste, where your body will be eaten by pests (the title track), discover satanic, knife-wielding meth heads dismembering nuns (“End of the Line”), and face the maddened and diseased residents of a tuberculosis sanatorium (“Unclaimed Remains”). And that’s just for starters.3 Now imagine these depraved tales set to the manic, explosive fury of Wormrot and Noise for Music’s Sake-era Napalm Death. If you’re in any doubt as to how Gravesend perceive their surroundings, go watch the video for “Needle Park” that I was going to embed in this review but can’t because it’s age restricted. Go on, off you go. I’ll wait. It’s grind, it’s pretty short. Ok? Done? Right.

The warbling, mesmeric electronica and wordless vocal samples of intro “Fear City” set an unsettling tone to open Methods of Human Disposal, before Gravesend begin to build up their sonic palette on instrumental “STH-10,” which feels like something of a warm up, as the three members flex their musical muscles before the main event. From there on, it’s a pummeling and punishing journey, as huge bass lines do battle with furious, pounding drums, while jagged riffs leer over the top and the rasping growls and roars of guitarist A, who handles lead vocals, give the record a filthy, blackened edge. Veering from unrelenting sonic battery (“The Grave’s End”), through monstrous demonic chugs (the title track) and roiling riffs (“Scum Breeds Scum”) to occasional flourishes that border on death metal (like the opening of “Absolute Filth”), Gravesend deliver a crushing and ever-shifting sound.

What Methods of Human Disposal does better than many a grind album is mix up the aural assault. The breathless and furious blasts of sound that define grindcore are tempered by mid-tempo, bass heavy passages, synths – including the disquieting and entirely synth-driven mid-point interlude, “Eye for an Eye” – and intricate drum fills that kept me guessing and engaged across its epic (for grind) runtime. In that sense, it reminds me a little of one of my favorites of the genre, Nasum’s Helvete. The work by drummer G feels vibrant and energetic throughout, rarely relying solely on blasts to make his point, with moments of surprising delicacy (see the cymbals at the end of “Ashen Piles of the Incinerated,” for example). The bass is really thick and prominent (“Subterranean Solitude” being a good example), giving the record a dense, weighty sound that I like a lot, while there’s a dirty edge to the guitar tone that fits really well with the overall ethos of the record. The master is very slightly crushed but not to a degree that really bothered me.

I don’t listen to a huge amount of grind. Frankly, I find it a little exhausting, even on the relatively short runtimes typical of the genre. But if all grind delivered the nasty, blackened quality and consistency that Gravesend does on Methods of Human Disposal I could rapidly become a convert. The band’s willingness to slow things down to the mid-tempos and incorporate flashes of black and death metal, as well as moments like the jaunty, swaggering opening of “Unclaimed Remains” – before it descends into a savage maelstrom – mean that the all out batterings that are also dished out have much greater impact. The (very) relative softenings of tone, give just enough of a hint of that slice of lemon to soften blow of the brick that Gravesend repeatedly smash into my willing ears.

Rating: 3.5/5.04
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: 20 Buck Spin
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 19th, 2021

Show 4 footnotes

  1. That’s the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series for any heathens unfamiliar with it.
  2. Bruce Davidson’s photo of a nun reading about the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981.
  3. I can attest that only some of these things happen in New York City. – Steel
  4. See Contrite Metal Guy for a score revision.
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