I have vague recollections of this lot’s early demos passing through these parts for coverage on an earlier website around 2008-9. Even if not from the music the artwork and name certainly rang a bell but what was said and by who is long gone. Originally the band were comprised of a duo Grant and Vil and it doesn’t take a Countdown champion to work out where they got the idea of their name from. Based in London and Finland things can’t have been fantastically easy and the Finnish half Vil is no longer part of the group. I guess it was amicable otherwise the band may now be called Gra and that would be daft, but members have been gathered, an album called Thoughts Of A Rising Sun came out in 2013 and here we are today.

Musically it is quickly evident exactly where they are coming from with a punchy melodic-death delivery and some modern trimmings along with it. They have a powerful sound courtesy of Voices Dan Alba’s production and with the first track here ‘Detonate’ delivering an explosive immediacy a song that’s likely to get heads a banging and fists pumping the second it angrily hones in at you. The combination of rampant riffs, somewhat hardcore sounding sharp, snappy vocals and catchy as hell chorus should have this one going down a storm at any metal clubs up and down the country. It’s what is commonly known as a belter, fast and furious and with it and has the sort of chorus that a band like Slipknot used to painfully dish out causing all sorts of mayhem. There’s some Gothenburg sounding twists and turns from the guitar department littering the album too, a bit of Arch Enemy along with Tompa sounding vocals and At The Gates speed and pace on songs such as ‘Are We Alive’ seeing all the boxes here ticked. Occasionally we enter newer territory as mentioned such as with some cleaner backing vocals on ‘I Am The Blood,’ I guess whereas this would have normally annoyed me intensely they are on the mark and not too off-putting. Although a lot more commercially orientated than most of the stuff I listen to nowadays I can certainly see the overall appeal and on repeated plays this has kept my feet busy tapping along to the burly rhythms on display.

‘Plagues Thieves And Murderers’ has a neat brooding intro as well as a good title and plenty of vocal antagonism. I notice here some real bouncy djenty parts adding a particularly hard edge to the musicianship here and this too works very well and gives the music an added dimension. There’s plenty going on here to keep the interest levels up and nothing sounds formulaic, each and every song has a sense of identity of its own. I do like the added keyboard parts on ‘Locate The Traitor’ and a passage that sounds like it has oozed out of an 80’s Fulci horror movie is particularly effective. The one song I really am not sure about is ‘Fractured And Divided’ and there could well be a clue behind that title. It’s like a bridge between two very different flavours akin to the old and new seen by a band like In Flames. The burgeoning chops are largely gone and there’s a real soulfulness come into the backing vocal parts which soar and croon away. The band have been going down well at places like Download and Hammerfest apparently but this is a real lighter’s out stadium song that certainly caught me off guard on 1st play. Boosting up the energy once more, the last few numbers bring back the aggro and finalise things in a confident fashion which should see plenty of new fans coming their way. I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to and on the strength of things GraVil deserve to have some labels sniffing at their heels and some more decent shows coming their way.

(7/10 Pete Woods)