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Damnation Evoked - 84%

BassLord, September 2nd, 2013

Having been a Gravewurm fan for some time, I was thrilled to catch their performance in Providence, RI last month. I spoke with their main man Funeral for some time after their set, and he was nice enough to give me a copy of this record to add to my collection. It’s always cool when bands are appreciative of their fans, so I figured I’d return the favor with this review. This is a somewhat important release for them, being their first split record (many more would follow), as well as their only record to be repressed thus far.

The record kicks off with two offerings from Rio de Janeiro’s Apocalyptic Raids (no k in the name yet). If you are a Hellhammer fanatic you may have heard of these guys, but they seem to have little appeal outside of that dedicated ring of fans. I personally remember giving them a listen a few years back, but at the time figured that my Warhammer discs would more than suffice. Anyway, their performance on this record is actually pretty enjoyable, with the trio able to whip up quite the, ahem, apocalyptic frenzy. All of the tones are spot on as far as HH worship is concerned, and they better be for a band named as such. Even with the exact same instrument sounds, and Tom Warrior’s early riffing and solo style, these two songs are of a faster tempo than HH ever got to during their existence, and have fiercer vocals. You can get a good sense of that South American blackened, barbaric style, and this could almost be seen as a meeting point between the Swiss trio, and bands like Sarcofago. The band’s image and lyrics are mostly as you would expect, but oddly enough, they took the time to name the guitar solo sections in each song, so there is certainly a dash of eccentricity to these South American ragers.

Gravewurm’s side is notable for being the first non-demo release to feature their “classic” sound. What I mean is that after a full length album with a more or less full lineup, here the band is stripped back to a one man band, with Funeral’s coughing raspy vocals, and slow chuggy riffs taking the fore front. These songs were actually recorded before the first album was released, and this facet of their style would come to dominate most of their future releases, with simple programmed rock drumming driving the Frosty chug riffs. Both of these tracks are catchy slices of raw meat, with little to no frills, so if you require more from your metal than look elsewhere, because Gravewurm play some of the rawest, un-adorned metal your likely to ever come across. While the debut album was more thrashy in nature, these tunes embody the slow to mid tempo riffing style that Funeral would rarely deviate from for the next decade, with lead guitars only creeping in during the last few years. With how little there is going on, the band’s style has always been somewhat unique, as there are simply few bands this raw and with vocals this singular. If you could imagine the primordial black metal of Hellhammer and Sodom, but played in the primitive doomy style of Saint Vitus, than you might have an idea of what Gravewurm conjures up.

If you are a maniac for the sound of black metal’s first wave, then both these groups are worth spending some time on. Personally, I prefer Gravewurm’s side of this split, but their sound does take some getting used to, so many be more comfortable with AR’s brand of noise. Either way, if you are in need of more gruesome sounds in the Hellhammer-ed vein, you will not be disappointed.