Rites of the Pentagram
Gravehill brings to mind old school thrash metal, complete with leather, spikes, bullet belts and spikes. Rites of the Pentagram is their first full length release after their reformation in 2007.
With a short spoken vocal track, the band breaks into a slayer-esque riff, introducing the listener to what will be 40 minutes of their brand of death/thrash metal. Mike Abominator’s vocals are rough and tortured, backed by furious riffs dished out by guitarists BodyBag Bob and Zyklon-A and drummer Thorngrimm’s punishing hits on the drumset. Slower parts of the album are also sufficiently heavy, such as on Decibel Ritual which is all about playing death metal loud and proud. The band also reminds listeners at the end of the song that “We are Gravehill. We are death-fuckin’-metal. FUCK YOU!!!” Songs such as Luciferian Mark have a simple but anthemic chorus, giving the image of a crowd chanting along with the band.
The personal highlight on this album are the guitar solos that are dished out by the guitarists, offering tasteful shredding, kind of like an organised chaos, at times displaying the chemistry between the two axe-wielders with their twin lead solos, a tribute to old school metal. At times the speed that Gravehill indulges in are reminiscent of bands like Slayer, but with a vocalist who has chosen to do his vocals black/death metal style instead.
The band also makes use of different sound effects and spoken vocal tracks at certain parts of the album. Besides the opening track, there are also spoken parts at the beginning of Pissing on Your Grave (“All I ever wanted was to watch you die!”), a semi-slow song that displays their doom influences before picking up the pace to their usual speed, and ending with yet another spoken track (“Ever wondered if there’s someone in your life that you shouldn’t fuck with? That’s me.”).
Another standout track is the interlude, Reckoning (B.E.F.S.), a track played with clean guitars and a radio playing in the background, emitting a doomsday atmosphere, with the radio gradually losing reception and breaking up towards the end of the track, marking the end with a gunshot before breaking into the final track, One Million Dead & Counting, which incidentally also makes use of sound effects such as the wartime siren.
Don’t be fooled by the lyrics filled with war, morbidity and Satanism. The band also knows how to inject their own dose of fun with song titles as already mentioned above, such as Pissing on Your Grave and with tracks such as Decibel Ritual. The production quality is clean and crisp, unlike the usual old school death metal albums with dirty and raw production, no matter since it gives an idea what a “clean” old school death metal album should sound like.
While the band brings nothing new to the extreme metal scene, they certainly execute their music well, providing the listener with an enjoyable ride throughout. Complete with cover art by Mark Riddick, this album is a staple in every self-respecting extreme metalhead’s diet. Now it has left me hungry for more…