After putting up our interview with the mighty Gravehuffer just recentley, I, The Great Mackintosh, felt a little guilty (Yes, although it may seem to some that I may not possess a soul of any description, occasionally one does feel a twinge of something every now and then), the feeling arising because I had promised all round nice guy and Gravehuffer guitarist extraordinaire Ritchie Randall that I would review their last full length, the genre defying and all around fucking excellent “Your Fault”. Quite obviously I did not, so hence the feeling. I decided that the best course of action was to remove my finger from my rear end, and do something positive and review this one to assuage my sense of wrongdoing.
What we have here are two tracks of the standard Gravehuffer variety, and having said that, the word ‘standard’ really does not apply to these guys at all, as they pretty much just go through life making the music that THEY wanna make, and saying screw you to things such as convention, genre, and all the other rules that bands tend to paint themselves into a corner with. The best part about their well displayed sense of, for want of a better term, derring-do, is that by combining the elements of what they like most about Metal, us the fans are also well rewarded with the final product.
Yep, you get a bit of Punk, some Crust, a dash of Grind, a nice serving of NWOBHM type stuff, a little bit of leaden Doom can be present, as can Sludge, Thrash, Crossover of the D.R.I, S.O.D kind, heck you name it, they mix it all together in one big fat METAL boiling pot and the result is rather a tasty offering to say the least. In some hands that lot could turn into a garbled mess, but not in these ones. So this EP “Demon Face/Stalingrad’s Cross” is only two songs, and their names are surprisingly enough contained within the title. Fancy that.
Track one, “Demon Face” just so happens to be the unfortunate tale of one Mr. Edward Mordrake, a man that could very easily be defined as two faced, not because he was particularly untrustworthy or not a nice dude at all, but because he was actually born with a normal face, like the rest of us, and another one just so happened to be present on the back of his head. Nothing cool about that at all. Things were hard for poor old Edward, legend has it that he was a lovely chap, quite handsome even if one could get one’s head (pardon the pun) around the fact THAT HE HAD TWO FACES! Apparently his second face was a bit of an arsehole. If he was happy, it would be grimacing, if sad, it would be smiling like a madman. To cut a long and horrible story short, face number two, or so it has been told, would like to mutter evil foulness into Edward’s ears at night, reducing our lovely friend into one big mentally unstable mess. He begged for it to be removed, nobody would dare attempt it, so at the ripe old age of twenty three our mate Mordie Mordrake decided to off himself. No more Mr. Nice Guy…. Urban legend perhaps? Enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up for mine.
Onto the song. Well, it sums up this story magnificently. Vocalist James Hiser barks out the lyrics in a style that at times very much reminds me of S.O.D./M.O.D, and this delivery has the effect of making one think that indeed you are listening to our very sad and now deceased friend Eddie, the words flowing almost by proxy through James’ mouth. Maybe they summoned good old mad Eddie and let him possess their singer for a while, either way, it works. Musically this is the kind of thing that would get a pit well and truly moving in no uncertain terms, especially later on in the number (around 2.50 to be precise) when it becomes an all out frontal assault. The pace doth indeed quicken, and some of the work on display here will definitely show off just how multi faceted and brilliant Ritchie (that guitar guy we spoke of earlier), Larry the drum machine, and the thundering rumble of Mike the bass guy really are. This is top notch, and if you understand the reference, please get me some milk, my coffee seems to have gone cold whilst listening.
Track two – “Stalingrad’s Cross” isn’t about a Russian city (know known as Volgograd, research you see, it helps) that is slightly miffed, or maybe on second thought’s it is, because it had a lot of very angry German soldiers trying to wrest it from the hands of it’s people. Yes, the famous Battle of Stalingrad IS the subject matter, and a very militaristic song is on display to get the point across that lots of people died horrible stupid deaths because humans as a whole just so happen to be a giant pack of arsehats. If you haven’t heard of this famous battle, I suggest you look it up and have a bit of a read, as I’m already waffling on more than I intended to, but highly recommended if you are so inclined.
Musically, this is quite the dark little ditty. Riffs of steel and the beat of the war drum, the pride of a people fighting the forces of oppression well put to heavy music. Again you would be hard pressed to pin down a direct style, and in saying that you can just rest assured that this is Metal, and fucking solid Metal at that. Ritchie displays his superb sense of melody and pays homage to the greats with his fret work, if you close one eye and lift your left leg (not really ha-ha) you could be forgiven for thinking you where well back in the late seventies listening to any of the legends you care to name. The rest of the guys perform as per their usual way, that being with nothing but pure integrity, to deliver unto us the masses, another rollicking, head banging, fist pumping tune of utter class. You will see what I mean, and that is a certainty.
Two songs, and as always seems to happen when I do EP’s, a ton of stuff just pours out of my mind. It’s possibly a lot easier to focus on everything when you only have a smaller amount of tunes to pay attention to. Gravehuffer have delivered the goods here, and I can only highly recommend that you get on board and have a listen, not just to this one, but to all of their work. Put simply, Gravehuffer are Metal as fuck, and that, good people, is a fact.