(We welcome Nathan Ferreira, who has been reviewing metal for close to a decade at various locations, including MetalBite, and whose first NCS review focuses on the new album by the Missouri band Gravehuffer, which is set for release by Black Doomba Records on January 15th.)
Remember when shows were a thing? Particularly the dim-lit, greasy dive-bar shows that you and maybe thirty other people attended, including the band members? Sure, some of the bands needed tightening up, or their songs were just unmemorable and all over the place, but there’s a certain personality that unknown locals have that resonates with you for some time. There’s something so endearing about local nobodies spending years together crafting their inaccessible, odd visions, creating something purely for their own love of all things loud and strange. That alone makes you want to like the music more, but I think it also serves as a better incubator to make something unique, free from the demands of the public or the need to satisfy anyone’s desires besides their own.
Gravehuffer is the apex of such scrappy local acts. They look like four dads who’ve been working the same soul-sucking jobs for 20 years, their band the only refuge from a bleak and monotonous reality. They slam genres together with reckless abandon and have a loose, jam-session feel to a lot of their songs, tying moments together with big, meaty riffs and stripping down the structures with crusty, d-beat heavy drums. Their building blocks are simple and you’d never call these guys virtuosos at their respective instruments, but the magic is in how they tie it all together.
NecroEclosion is described in the promo as a ‘monster of Frankenstinian design’ with influences ranging from death metal to grind, crust, thrash, and a few others – and unlike most hype paragraphs that make such claims, you can actually hear everything they mention in full force. The range of motion this band has is incredible, with crushing, sludgy doom sections jumping into blistering thrash and old-school hardcore which then suddenly morphs to punishing grind or vaguely black metal-inspired neocrust – and the songs still feel like songs!
There’s a hidden cleverness to the patchwork delivery of NecroEclosion, because it turns the sudden twists and scratchy, thin production into essentials of appreciating Gravehuffer, where they might be interpreted as mistakes or songwriting flubs in a more ‘professional’ band.
This album succeeds where other locals fall short because of the incredible chemistry between the four band members. They’ve apparently known each other for over 20 years and have been making music together for over a decade, quietly honing their craft piece by piece over that time. You get the sense that all four have the exact same vision and that every single one of them felt as though ‘Death Before Disco’ was the perfect bizarre segue to have as a fourth track, and it’s pretty much the only reason why the song works. Even the more lighthearted moments in these 11 tracks are delivered with unwavering conviction that is near-impossible not to be captivated by.
There’s a bizarre twist in every track I could mention, but I don’t want to spoil all the surprises – the main draws in this that will keep you coming back are the chunky, old-Mastodon-meets-neocrust riffing, smart songwriting that keeps simple songs fresh after multiple listens, and a vocal performance that combines hardcore yelling, grind screeches and an odd sense of Amebix-esque tonality with a loose, maniacal delivery that eludes description beyond hearing it for yourself. It really is its own thing, fitting the album’s aesthetic like a glove where it would sound bizarre and unnerving in any other band.
That’s the contradictory nature of NecroEclosion. It is structured in its chaos, more genuine and composed in its sloppiness, more beautiful in its ugliness, and any connoisseur of the bizarre, unique and loud would be doing a disservice to themselves by not checking it out.
NecroEclosion comes out January 15, 2021. The album was recorded and mixed by bassist Mike Jilge, and was mastered by Garry Moore. The album features guest solo performances by Dan Mongrain (Voivod) and Curran Murphy (Annihilator, Nevermore) and artwork by Eric Sweet. The band cites influences such as Aus Rotten, Nausea, Morbid Angel, Mastodon and Voivod.