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I'm not going to lie, I don't mind old school death metal rehash bands. Mainly, because old school death metal is awesome and usually sounds good. Meathole Infection, now Grave Ritual, has that old school death metal sound and drive, but they do offer enough to make them noticable.
The first thing I noticed about this release is that it's pure and raw. The production quality is perfect for the vibe that's trying to be conveyed. Especially during the tremolo riffing, it causes a thick swirl of sound. As the demo continues, you hear tons of chugging guitar riffage, mostly solid and grooving. There's experimentation with the guitar during slower moments, usually trying to achieve a sinister and creepy sound. I also noticed the bass guitar booms in the background throughout the demo. It's a plus, especially for this style of music. All the more heavy, the goal of most bands. The vocals remind me of some of the Razorback bands, grueling and disgusting. They are varied death grunts and higher pitched rasps, which I enjoy a lot. The drum work is good and fits the music. There's a lot of blast beats throughout the demo. The only negative I see in them, is every now and then the crash cuts through the mix too loudly. It's irritating, but not enough for me to hit the skip button.
Meathole Infection, in my opinion, was a successful project. The song writing is interesting, it's not too raw or over-produced, and it's heavy. All the necessary attributes of an old school style death metal band, yes? I haven't heard their music as Grave Ritual, but if it's anything like this, I'm sure it'll be solid material.
Although this is pretty fucked up and dirty sounding, Meathole Infection are very much rooted in old-school death metal. This demo is quite simple in the way that it conveys it's heaviness. It isn't brutal in the same way as most brutal death metal, it isn't really technical at all, and although it has it's fair share of weird riffs it isn't necessarily full-on wacky like one of the many Demilich worship bands.
Infact, some of the riffs here could easily fit onto an early Death album with their hard, driving rhythms. Some of the riffs could also fit onto a Morbid Angel or Immolation album with their weird, otherworldly feel. The whole demo sounds ridiculously dark and evil, and that's how Meathole Infection convey their heaviness, overpowering the listener with sheer infernal demoncy. Just listen to the vocals, a low, distorted, unintelligible (well, more so than normal) rumble bordering on a disorted wash. It's all very ugly and demonic sounding, again, going back to the death metal of old.
Is it good? Yeah, it gets better the more you listen to it. Actually, the first time I heard this I was quite disappointed with the songwriting, but the more you listen, the more the songs and riffs get inside your head. It is based upon riffs, at least for me, that's the most important part, it just so happens that the production and the vocals add to that to create a truly hellish atmosphere. Recommended.
Meathole Infection started off as an Impetigo-worshiping oldschool death metal band. A bit after that phase, they moved in a more downbeat, Coffins style of doom/death material. Now they've gone further down the rabbit hole, incorporating elements from both styles into their latest demo 'Bloodsucker', which takes Impetigo-style riffing and throws it headfirst into a well of black sludge. With every release Meathole Infection cranks out, they manage to get darker and uglier, and this is no exception: this is easily the sickest, most depraved demo they're released yet.
To call the tracks on 'Bloodsucker' 'songs' would be a bit overly charitable. They're not nearly as structured as on previous releases, and many of the tracks have those rhythmless sludge-plods typified by bands like Eyehategod, such as midway through 'Socerors Gore'. The playing is more deliberately sloppy than before, almost like a Gallhammer cover band, where there's no picking as much as there is banging the strings. The more downbeat, hopeless sound meshes weirdly with some of the more uptempo riffs, giving the tracks a vaguely maniacal, deranged aesthetic, complete with impromptu bass-only sections and bursts of feedback. All in all, Meathole Infection is now pretty much perfectly replicating the early '90s doom/death sound of bands like Deteriorot, with the same lack of normal groove and abundance of low, grotesque riffing.
The production on this release is the best that the band has had so far, eschewing the synthetic guitar tone of previous discs in favor of a much more organic, analog sound. The warm, claustrophobic production is made even more sickly by what seem to be at least slightly pitch-shifted vocals, with the demonic oratory of vocalist Ryan perpetually letting out low, Wormphlegm-like growls contrasting with strained, yawning screams from some Cthulhuian universe beyond. There's a thrash influence, but it's subdued and restricted to only specific points in the riffing, or the occasional wild, impromptu guitar solo. Everything sounds very decayed, and, for lack of a better word, doomed. It wouldn't really be a misnomer at all to call this band Coffins minus the Celtic Frost and Hellhammer influences. There's less punk and more pure death metal here.
I have to say that this is easily the best release that Meathole Infection has turned out yet. This dark, sludgy sound is one that the band has truly made their own, and differentiated enough to be worth a serious look from all oldschool death/doom fans. They only seem to be getting better, so hopefully a label will take notice soon and give these guys the full-fledged release they deserve.