Horrifying Nightmares… will sound like familiar territory for long-standing death metal veterans, or previous fans of the band in general. There’s no denying that the remnants of the previous formation still linger in its ranks, but there’s a little more essence of the likes of Cancer and Autopsy at work in their music this time around, as well as a little more of an analog sound compared to the only full-length issued under the Undead Creep name. The guitars are a little on the sharpened side, baring its fangs in an early Carcass output, while the crisp drums work to create infectious rhythms with the mild presence of the bass guitar, adding a little more bite to the eerie atmospheres the leads can sometimes create. The vocals also stand a little different, not quite being as deep and burdensome as they had been before the initial disbanding. Instead they have a vile touch to the harsh growls that only adds to the impact of the b-grade exploitive horror sensation that appears when the band isn’t indulging themselves in a hint of hardcore thanks to the random bouts of authoritative grooves that show from time to time.
For the most part, this effort is a high energy mixture of brutality and creepy melodies. “Intro – Anguished Sleep” sets the latter environment up quite well with a synth piece that could easily fit a b-movie from the sixties or seventies. About a minute in, the music slowly picks up, casting you into a borderline nightmarish world that only continues to grow more intense, bleeding into “Submerged in Vomit” through a held guitar note. The pace returns to as frantic as the prior’s conclusion, throwing the bass guitar pulses at you with the steady drums and eerie guitar work Autopsy fans will warmly embrace. There are some changes that occur and disrupt the timing, but this is handled either in a quick progressive manner, or a doom metal tone, the latter coming into play at just past two-and-a-half minutes in.
“I Want to Rot” is one of the few tracks that really does manage to break the mold for the most part. The group cites Death as an influence, which can be felt early on in the introduction, as well as starting at the three minute mark. What follows is more high energy metal that sounds like a sleeker modern day Swedish death metal assault with nods to Bolt Thrower and the like, all without a heavy digital overproduction. The burdensome churning of doom metal reappears once more about half way through for a short amount of time, crawling along with some additional technicality that moves into an impressive guitar solo before a hint of Exhumed-style goregrind kicks in to wrap things up with.
“Where Mortals Fear to Thread”, however, stands as one of the more epic offerings from the group. Things start with a progressive foothold, quickly shifting to a standard groove-heavy death metal cut that slowly picks up both speed and intensity. Like “Submerged in Vomit”, this is one of the few that rely quite a lot on the bass guitar’s output, bringing the pulse to the forefront in some segments to weave some burdening traits that only grow as you reach the half way mark, working with the drums to suffocate the listener as it pushes ever more through the tightly packed ground to freedom. This leads to a frantic exertion musically, as well as vocally, until the realization of being trapped in the dank darkness sets upon you with riffs that slow the adrenaline for a bit, giving it one more go shortly before it all caves in on you.
Horrifying Nightmares… acts as a testament for an era that has made its comeback in metal today, but often more as a carbon copy than anything all that original or unique. While this effort shows clear evidence of its influences, Gravesite are far from a band of pure hero worship. It’s clear the four-piece is putting a lot of effort into their music, offering up a good deal of variety throughout that all feels natural to the flow of the release (save a few oddball introductions towards the very end), and the joy they have playing the material is clearly heard in the album on every track. Using a number of b-movie scores to play up the horrific angle of the album’s dirty sounding music that is just the right blend of crisp, modern day technological abilities and gritty analog recording methods, Horrifying Nightmares… stands an enthusiastic slab of death metal fans of the gritty late eighties to early nineties days will find plenty of replay value in.