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Encased in Bone - 90%

HeySharpshooter, October 2nd, 2012

Grave Upheaval is the side project of Ignis Fatuus and Omenus Fugue, the men behind Impetuous Ritual, and who also play in the legendary Portal. A massive pedigree no doubt, but Grave Upheaval goes well beyond recognizable names. It's not a project that needs to piggy back on the larger bands that have come before it. Mainly because this, the project's self titled demo, is without a doubt the finest album this storied duo has produced. From the first listen Grave Upheaval blew away any of the duo's previous material and entombed me in it's light-devouring darkness. Ritualistic carnage devoid of any sympathy for the listener, Grave Upheaval is full contact inhumanity.

Grave Upheaval is not really a massively different project from Impetuous Ritual in terms of genre. Both projects deal in Doom-laden Death Metal inspired by the New York Death Metal sound and the primitive East-Coast sounds of bands like Imprecation and Killing Addiction. But while Impetuous Ritual delve into chaotic and explosive compositions with a slightly more technical edge, Grave Upheaval are more sunken and sulfurous; a truly primitive and ancient evil that crawls from the Earth to wreak terrible works. The music itself is fairly simplistic at the individual level, with lots of repetitive, Doom-y riffs and lumbering rhythms. It sounds to me heavily inspired by Raw Black Metal with the heavy repetition and supreme focus on atmosphere over technical prowess, and the masterful duo pull it off perfectly. The production and atmosphere is massive and thick; a swarm of plague-bearing insects that bathes you in disease. The album personifies evil, and does so without any real cheesiness.

The focus of ritualism is what makes Grave Upheaval so powerful. The drums thunder and blast across the empty expanse of the megalithic production while the demented vocals imitate the chanting, demonic rumblings of a mad witch doctor. At any moment, it seems a portal straight to Hell will open up inside your head, the beckoning calls of Grave Upheaval drawing them closer and closer to the tender under-belly of your skull.

Being both genuine and skillfully performed, Grave Upheaval is one of the most impressive atmospheric achievements I have heard in Death Metal in a long time. It attaches itself to the darkest, most primal emotions and draws them forward, drawing as many visceral head-bangs as well as more then a few moments of gloomy introspection. It's Death Metal done right: nihilistic, genre-destroying madness.

Rating: 9/10

originally posted at: http://curseofthegreatwhiteelephant.blogspot.com/