Alright, brevity seekers. Here's the rub. Embrace the Void, the debut(ish) album from multi-continental death metallers Gravefields, is a damn fine record. Thus, I'll employ a reversal of sorts: let's get the critical stuff out of the way quickly, and then proceed with the pummeling--err, of the good variety.
Firstly, the vocals could stand to rise a tad higher in the mix. And secondly, the runtime breaks the Sleeping Village Rule o' 44. With a sound so gloriously belligerent on the ears, the final few tracks leave less of an impact after Side A's goliathan entrance. Am I nitpicking? Yes. Am I finished nitpicking? Also yes.
In regards to Gravefields' primary draw, there's not much beating around the bush. Here, the muscular riffage swims the waters of the Nile. Think Skinless. Think Misery Index. Think Necrophagist without all the weedle-deedle-dee bits. Chunky Swedeath stew, with just enough tremolo to wash it all down. This is pure and unadulterated death metal through and through--and yet, melodic undertones abide. For a prime example, look to "Psycoactive Rites," which remains an absolute firecracker of an opener across dozens of listens. And if we're breaking out the highlight reel, "Chemical Rampage" defines the juicy riff-fest we all showed up for. Pardon my fucking french, but holy goddamn shit is this track a bruiser.
Gravefields operates with the knowledge that the sheer quality of their riffs is the raft that keeps them afloat in a sea of mediocre Swedeath clones. That said, every instrument--and I say instrument rather than instrumentalist, because Alan Hurley plays 'em all--pulls its weight. The low end is present without overshadowing the main attraction, and the drums make use of some particularly complimentary fills. It's a unison that succeeds wholeheartedly. And, lest they be forgotten, the vocals are charred to perfection, a hefty blend of blackened roars, gurgles, and harsh howls. Nothing here is groundbreaking, but it doesn't need to be, and vocalist DM uses the range at his disposal to great effect. The varied delivery--anywhere from "throttled" to "lung-imploding"--keeps things compelling, and suit the swirling melodies quite handily.
I can't say for certain how long Embrace the Void will stay in rotation, but know this: for the time being, I turn no where else for my daily dose of neck-wrenching riffage. Gravefields are the real deal, and with a few more albums of this high caliber under their belt, they will undoubtedly find themselves in good company indeed. In case it needs saying: Embrace the Void comes highly recommended.
Gravefields - Embrace the Void was released June 7th, 2019 from Redefining Darkness Records.