Review – Gravehill: Rites of the Pentagram / Metal of Death

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Review – Gravehill: Rites of the Pentagram / Metal of Death
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Gravehill: Rites of the Pentagram / Metal of Death
Black Metal, Thrash Metal
Ibex Moon Records
July 6th, 2010
Release length: 58:25
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Gravehill has a bit of an interesting history, especially in the discography section. This California-based Black and Thrash Metal act formed in 2001, but wound up breaking up after recording one demo. The band’s drummer, Thorgimm, then restarted the group with a new line-up, reissued the demo that was limited to thirty copies, and since then the band has been going strong on writing new material, and reissuing recently recorded material. This release comes as no exception, as this split album is composed of the first demo with the new line-up, Metal of Death, as well as their debut full-length release, Rites of the Pentagram, through Ibex Moon Records.

The first nine tracks of this release come from the Rites of the Pentagram full-length, while the rest are from the Metal of Death demo recording. There isn’t too much of a difference between the recording quality of both releases, as both have good production aspects to them that really capture the Thrash atmosphere of the band while still having a slightly raw Black Metal appeal, however, the Metal of Death release does seem to have a slightly stronger Black Metal approach compared to Rites of the Pentagram, losing some the unique appeal that is presented prior to those songs and becoming a little bland. The release has an odd mixture of upbeat music, which you’ll pick up on almost instantly and seems to end after a short while, meets a blackened evil feeling. The pace of the music on here is typically faster, but the solos are usually a little faster then the songs overall. The vocals are a traditional rhaspy wailing style that many would associate with bands of this musical combination, and it works out well against the Thrash based music, though sometimes it feels like it may conflict with the overall product, even though the guitar solos will often make up for it with it’s slight Thrash shred, but sounds differently then the guitars on the rest of the album, as well as a little clearer and played in a way that it can often give off a haunting atmosphere, such as the solo near the end of “By Scourge & Wrath”.

While the music is Thrash with some Black Metal atmosphere to it, the upbeat aspect of the music appears on some of the tracks and gives off a more straight forward Thrash feel that would lead the listener more in the direction of the kind of music you would assume the worship and consumption of beer and other alcoholic beverages would be professed in the lyrics with a somewhat polished recording quality. While tracks like “Bloodsoaked” really push the more Blackened atmosphere of this release, there are songs on both releases that comprise this split, such as “Decibel Ritual”, that usher in a sound that makes you want to just get up and mosh right away more so then headbanging in the name of the Devil. Luckily this seems to stop dead in it’s tracks after this song, as the rest of the release seems to usher in more Black Metal soaked tracks that often go at a much slower pace, such as “By Scourge & Wrath”, as well as some faster tracks like the longer and more complicated composition “A Celebration of Wounds”, which really is the best track off the release thanks to it’s speed and technical Thrash chords mixed together with an overall blackened atmosphere and riffs that the complexity winds up based off of.

There’s also a decent amount of audio samples put into play on these releases that, for the most part work, but sometimes just sit there like a brick. The release kicks off with one at the starte of “Rites of the Pentagram”, which suits the album and gets you a little worked up for what is coming next. However, the track “Pissing on Your Grave” features two audio clips, and the only one that really has any worth to the release is the sample at the end, which rings the song out nicely and is rather short, where the first that starts the song doesn’t really do anything but eat up time. The audio sample used against the music in “Suicide”, as well as the acoustic track “Reckoning (B.E.F.S.)” really is how these samples should be used on this, or any album for that matter, as it is a simple audio clip that is laid in the background of a short acoustic track that bleeds into the intense straight forward Black Metal track “One Million Dead & Counting”, which is a phenomenal closing to the Rites of the Pentagram full-length, although not the only option since “Decibal Ritual” is composed as if the band were performing it live as the last song of their set. It’s hard to argue which of the two would best close out the album, but due to it’s placing, “Decibal Ritual” does cause some mucking up of the flow the album would have had so early in the album, as well as the fact that it all would have sounded better had the tracks that make up Metal of Death come before those from Rites of the Pentagram.

It’s clear from this split compilation that Gravehill have some great potential. There’s really nothing on here that sounds bad, and it’s great to hear the maturing and exploration of the band since their Metal of Death release, as well as to have that so readily available, even though it was already reissued with another EP not long before this release, making it the third time this demo has been released. It’s clear the band does have more ground to explore, as well as needs to lay off using more then one or two audio samples an album unless they manage to creatively bring them into the music and make them effective instead of just tacking them on to the start or end of a song and disrupting the flow. Hopefully there will be more original material from the band, and fewer reissues of their older material in such a short amount of time from it’s original date of release, and when that time comes, we’ll see a Gravehill that has matured nicely and created a sound all it’s own. Until then, Rites of the Pentagram/Metal of Death is a great release to add to your collection, as it features two great releases full of Thrash and Black Metal anger.


01. Rites of the Pentagram – 4:13
02. Decibel Ritual – 4:03
03. Bloodsoaked – 4:29
04. Pissing on Your Grave – 5:07
05. The Luciferian Mark – 3:57
06. By Scourge & Wrath – 3:49
07. A Celebration of Wounds – 6:14
08. Reckoning (B.E.F.S.) – 1:56
09. One Millione Dead & Counting – 4:32
10. A Promise Made in Heresy – 4:40
11. Purifier of Flesh – 4:57
12. Ravager – 2:26
13. Murder – 3:30
14. Suicide – 4:31
Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10

Gravehill
Gravehill

Digital review copy of this release provided by Ibex Moon Records
via Clawhammer PR.