GraveRitualBestial. Primitive. Morbid. No, not a description of my sex life (….although) but an accurate summary of this cracker from Grave Ritual.

If you’ve not heard of the band before, they formed in 2009 after Ryan (vocals / guitar)  & Jerm (drums) previous band, the rather charmingly titled ‘Meathole Infection’ came to an end….presumably from a lack of wedding bookings…. However, here we are five years after this maggot ridden crew from Alabama released their debut LP ‘Euphoric Hymns From The Altar Of Death’ and they’re back with these 9 songs of blasphemous & atmospheric death metal.

I think the term ‘Old School’ is banded about a bit too much these days. I’ve heard these guys described as ‘Old School’ death metal but to me that term doesn’t fit. ‘Old School’ makes me think of bands like Death & Autopsy, now there are hints of these bands in the Grave Ritual sound…especially Autopsy but, these guys, primitive as they sound, are more along the lines of Hooded Menace & Dead Congregation. Atmosphere is where it’s at. And that atmosphere is crushing morbidity. This is the soundtrack to a grave robbing interrupted by a zombie priest being bummed by a Lovecraftian monster…..but maybe that’s just me.

Either way it’s a great record. Crushing, simple sounding, blood-soaked riffs – ‘Adversary Crown’…. what a song…- grotesque, reverb soaked vocals and pounding drumming. This is not a ‘heads down lads, see you at the end’ blastathon… no. Like Hooded Menace these guys conjure up some dread with a rotten blend of death metal speed & aggression and death/doom slab heavy ‘crush’.

Every track is killer, every track has memorable riffs and you will definitely playing this again and again…assuming you’re not scared!

Also, as an old bastard, cover art is very important to me and the art on this record is awesome – totally fitting. Created by Daniel ‘Desecrator’ Corcuera, supplier of artistic grimness for such bands as Coffins / Hooded Menace / Deiphago.

(8.5/10 Mark Eve)