Yes, a band called Pissgrave exists and yes, that’s a very dead human being on the cover. Fifteen year old Diabolus is really stoked about how edgy this whole thing is, but much older than fifteen year old Diabolus is fairly aloof about this whole ordeal. While they’re not dressed as pirates, this is nonetheless quite gimmicky. It’s obvious from the cover, name, and praise surrounding the Philadelphia death metal band’s first full-length Suicide Euphoria that the order of the day is attempting to be as raw and disgusting as possible, which is great if they have the material to back it up and make it worthwhile. Otherwise, finding a good reason to recommend this would just be pissing in the
It’s apparent right off the bat that Pissgrave isn’t doing anything particularly inventive, which in itself is no problem. What isn’t exactly encouraging is that once you get past the roughshod production and underneath the grime, Suicide Euphoria is essentially middle of the road Incantation a la Blasphemy with Portal’s dissonant dual-guitar insanity popping up at least once per song. Pissgrave is admittedly more riff-focused than Portal but lacks both Incantation’s skill at incorporating melody and nuance and Portal’s more inventive approach to creating webs of dissonance. In place of these aspects, more relatively straightforward dissonant tremolo picking and midtempo stomps without McEntee’s great use of pinch harmonics step up to fill the void.
Suicide Euphoria is not nearly as unpalatable as the hype train will lead you to believe. I found myself enjoying “Impaled Vibration” and the Incantation worship that comprises its introduction in addition to the Blasphemy meets Swarth crunch of the verse. Vocally, Pissgrave employs a heavy amount of distortion to attempt an almost inhuman feel, but this leads to no real variation in delivery and renders the vocals a blunt rhythmic instrument that merges into the maelstrom. It can be an interesting effect at times, but it’s incredibly limited and becomes dull after a while. The faster segments of “Perpetual War” make good use of the monotone vocals, and these fare best in achieving a frenzied and uneasy atmosphere. The ending of “Suicide Euphoria” makes a good case for Pissgrave’s style with a very satisfying medium found between Portal’s dissonance and Incantation’s riffcraft with a simple pounding drum beat that would make Kyle Severn happy.
Once you get past how bleak and unpleasant Suicide Euphoria sounds, the cracks quickly start to show. The uber-distorted growls sound like incessant vocal hits over the repeating chugging riff of “The Second Sorrowful Mystery” which gets old pretty fast, and apart from the more unhinged sounding blast-backed moments, they’re fairly grating on a whole. The songwriting left me nonplussed more often than not, as Pissgrave regularly falls into the trap of writing derivative Incantation inspired material and then switching to a Portal riff on occasion, with “Prevail in Hell” being a prime example of this. Most of the Incantation pilfering is serviceable in songs like “Mass Cremation” and “Fields of Scattered Bones,” but in such a crowded genre with Dead Congregation, Disma, and the masters themselves releasing great records along with some other quality acts and seemingly endless pretenders to the throne, there’s not much reason to stick around after seeing what all the initial fuss was about.
The production does its damnedest to marry the gross-out sleeve with the music, but instead comes across as rather disingenuous. It’s not exactly pleasant to listen to, but it sounds as if the band recorded a pretty decent sounding set of tunes and then dirtied it up in post-production, and while the TT meter clocked this at DR7 throughout, it sounds like a good bit of the record was purposely redlined due to the crackling that’s fairly prevalent. Underneath the obfuscation lie guitar tones that recall mid-period Incantation, a decent distorted bass, and appealing drum tones with cymbals that aren’t washed out.
The combination of a dirty sound and provocative artwork will get Suicide Euphoria attention (as it already has), but once the novelty wears off we’re left with uninspiring death metal with often annoying vocals that exists in a large scene wherein the bar is set incredibly high. This won’t be the worst thing you’ve heard all year by a long shot, but after you and your friends have a giggle at the name and conclude that Pissgrave doesn’t suck, the appeal will fade and the search for more truly commendable death metal will begin anew.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Profound Lore Records
Websites: Too evil for the PC
Worldwide Release: August 4th, 2015