PISSGRAVE — Posthumous Humiliation (review)

PISSGRAVE — Posthumous Humiliation album cover Album · 2019 · Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Vim Fuego
Having lived and worked on farms most of my life I think I’m a pretty good judge of the gory and gruesome.

I have picked swarms of maggots from the putrefying flesh of living animals. I have been splattered in grey matter (yep, calf brains) and guts, bathed in piss, and showered in shit. I have removed rotted placenta and foetal material from the birth canal of a half-ton beast. I have cleaned up two inch deep jellied blood from euthanised sheep. I have killed animals with blunt force and firearms alike (clarification: never, ever for fun - always from necessity). I now work as a medical writer, dealing with pictures of gonorrhoeic genitalia, ulcerated eyes, suppurating sores, and scathing skin rashes. Blood, pus, viscera, excreta, it’s all part of life. Someone has to deal with it, and quite often that someone has been me.

Pissgrave have achieved something with the cover of their second album “Posthumous Humiliation”. They caused me to look away in disgust. Yep, the cover of this album is utterly revolting. Well done!

Why “well done”? Because it’s hard to get a reaction of disgust out of me, without resorting to inhuman and inhumane cruelty (I don’t go looking for torture and murder for fun). While the victim of the illustration here is obviously dead, it looks like the result of a violent accident rather than a willful act of violent depravity. Cannibal Corpse left the imagery of a hammer smashed face to the listener’s own imagination. Pissgrave brought that image to life... er, death.

And after a cover like that, you’d probably expect a vile mishmash of formless near noise, right? Not this time.

Pissgrave’s thing is some pretty fucking solid death metal, accented with guttural beyond goregrind vocals. This differs from your usual loose labial grinding gore mess in that it’s tighter than a gerontonecrophiliac’s nutsack at the site of a plane crash full of senior citizens. The music is structured, and the riffs are actually pretty fucking good. If you’ve ever thought “I wonder what Autopsy would sound like if they had been a bit faster and tighter”, then here’s your answer. Of course, part of Autopsy’s charm is the way the band always skirted the edge of total disaster, but still...

Pissgrave’s riffs are tight and focused. This is proper death metal, and while not up to the quality of something like Cannibal Corpse or Morbid Angel (what is?), it’s streets ahead of the heavy-for-heavy’s sake deathcore/slam multitudes. There are solos in the frantic Rick Rozz style of old school Death and Massacre, strings squealing on the verge of snapping. The drums aren’t mindless blasting or a robotic mechanical rattle. Don’t worry – there’s more than enough blast beats and double kick drums to go round, but there’s enough space left in the mix for contrast and definition.

The vocals are the big point of difference. The pitch-shifted guttural growl is amped and fuzzed within an inch of white noise oblivion, almost completely blown out. A lot of grind bands do this by accident with a mushy, muffled sound. In this case, it’s voice as instrument, like John Tardy’s early Obituary efforts, except a shitload faster, and more mangled and manipulated.

Pissgrave are really at their best when they hit a high speed groove, like in second track “Canticle of Ripping Flesh”. The music is frenetic and chaotic, but from it a sub-melody emerges. It’s the kind of groove death metal pioneers hit, and new school tech-deathsters miss. That’s why a lot of people still love the old shit and get left cold by a lot of the new stuff. It brings death metal to life. And despite the dead bad luck of the unfortunate cover model, this is an album full of life. True, the “life” is probably gangrenous, highly infectious, and purulent, but this is an album which is much smarter than it may appear at first glance. If you’re brave enough to take a second glance, Pissgrave have distilled the essence of old school death metal and spiced it up with some new school flavours.

Just don’t look at the album cover while trying to eat...
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Vim Fuego wrote:
4 months ago
There's a censored cover version on Spotify.
Nightfly wrote:
4 months ago
I really need to check that one out despite or because of the horrendous cover.

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