Review – Gruesome: Dimensions of Horror

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  • Bio: "GRUESOME's music is an intentional homage to the first wave death metal scene of Tampa, Florida, specifically Death's early period. " - Bandcamp
  • Label: Relapse Records
  • Release Date: May 20th, 2016
  • Genre: Death Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Everyone’s newly discovered favorite early Death clone, Gruesome, have skyrocketed in popularity since storming onto the scene with 2015’s debut album Savage Land, which was released through Relapse Records. It’s been about a year now, and the four-piece of well established musicians from Dekapitator, Murder Suicide, Possessed, and Exhumed among many others present a brand new six song EP titled Dimensions of Horror. But does the blatant, unhidden worship continue within its ranks, or is this homage act looking to break the shackles in favor of a more original sounding affair?

Dimensions of Horror doesn’t really seem to change much of the formula outlined on their debut album Savage Land and, really, it doesn’t need to. The group’s mixture of so-cal input over traditional Death with goregrind influence and atmospheres from the likes of Exhumed is nothing to scoff at, especially on this follow-up EP. This effort still lingers in the raw aesthetic, and it works for the most part, though ends up a bit too muffled to truly be effective. What excitement is often present can sometimes feel held back by the mild thud of the bass kicks or limp sounding guitar work, primarily in the leads. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t quite have the spark necessary to make the dismal hostility presented on this offering one that really stands out as being more than just not carbon copy of the classic metal realm. Instead it seems like a third or even fourth generation bootleg cassette you might find being sold on the streets of New York back in the day.

That said, the music itself can still be catchy at the very least. “Forces of Death” is your standard slab of death metal with some thrash metal layered over it. It isn’t too fast outside the solid guitar solo fans of Vader and early Pestilence will easily approve of. Meanwhile you also get like “Raped by Darkness” with its darker bouts of old-school death metal bands like Autopsy and Fleshcrawl would unleash. The same can be said for “Hellbound”, one of the few tracks that manages to break the limited impact of the audio quality and get your blood pumping during the faster segments, of which there are plenty coupled with crossover tenacity and solid fills from the drum kit.

“Dimensions of Horror” has some good technicality in the guitars, as well as just the timing in general. One minute the track is abrasive, the next it becomes brooding and haunting, as if Possessed and Cathedral came together, and this performance is their offspring. The thrash riffs sound great as well, especially with some of the leads, but again the muffled tone takes away a good chunk of the bite. Another prime example is “Seven Doors”, a nostalgic romp that kicks right in with riffs on par with something you’d expect to hear on MTV’s original Headbanger’s Ball. Infectious and sometimes eerie, this track takes it’s time to dissect the listener, but the full impact is only diluted due to the aforementioned audio issue.

Gruesome

Dimensions of Horror is yet another nod to the glory days of death metal, but it isn’t so much a carbon copy of the eighties to early nineties. Yes, that input is there, but Gruesome manage to take their inspirations and weave them into one cohesive sound with an abundance of southern California flair for good measure. The problem is that the EP itself just doesn’t capture the full enthusiasm this four-piece clearly brought into the studio with them. There’s just enough bite in the surprisingly dull mastering to get your head bobbing along, maybe a song or two that will make you want to kick up a circle pit, but that’s about where it stands. Hopefully Gruesome go elsewhere for their next effort, as Dimensions of Horror just comes off a bit too forced into the revival movement, which is detrimental enough to keep it from having that lasting appeal Savage Land had.

Gruesome

Digital review copy of this release provided by Relapse Records via Earsplit PR.