US death metal veterans VORE have returned with a muscular beast of an album in Gravehammer, a release that uses an arsenal of thunderous carnivorous riffs in league with soul tapping grooves and satanic borne melodic guitars. This combination ensures complete submission to its devilish intent and mesmeric deathly charms, Gravehammer an album that throws out its addictive grinds and hooks to lure, capture and manipulate eager senses completely.
Gravehammer is the fourth self financed release from the band and the long awaited and anticipated follow up to 2005 album Maleficus. Through the previous album and Dead Kings Eyes (1997) and Lord of Storms (2001) before it VORE has gathered strong acclaim from media and fans alike. Now with the new album the band are set to ignite metal once more with a release that sees the band with even more formidable aggression and intensity. The Arkansas-based trio of guitarist and vocalist Page Townsley, bass and vocals Jeremy Partin, and drummer Remy Cameron have a deserved reputation for creating some of the most crushing doom soaked death metal to crawl into the ear since their beginning in 1994 but with Gravehammer they have lifted it up many levels and though the album maybe not be the most unique it is one of the more creatively and aurally addictive releases within the genre for a long time.
The album consists of nine pulsating doom laden marches upon the ear veined with challenging unrelenting riffs and melodically toned grooves that scythe their way to the heart whilst lighting up every sense with irresistible lures. The tracks fuse thrash and metal flavours into a death metal base to create soundscapes that are varied and inviting whilst still consuming with deep punished energy and incisive attention grabbing guitars fuelled by scorching melodic invention. Opening track ‘The Cruelest Construct’ instantly demands attention with a heavy waspish grind over thumping chunky riffs. Intimidating vocals from the deepest pit bring forth the vengeance themed track, Townsley’s deep gutturals a natural companion to the hammering rhythms and unrelenting groove.
Every track within Gravehammer is compulsive and satisfying, each a thrusting abundance of brutal yet captivating chugging riffs and mesmeric invention. From the sinister stalking ‘The Unseen Hand’ to the wicked fascination of ‘Sacerdotum Tyrannis’ and its aural manipulations, via ‘Doomwhore’ with its stunning hostile expanse and a resonating bass to lose control over and ‘The Claw Is The Law’, its intrusive tight caustic riffs lined with a Lovecraftian type horrific atmosphere, the album is a maelstrom of nasty but irresistible pleasures. The track lastly mentioned features Steve Allington (Apea), Mike Rodgers (Nailed To Eternity/Epitaph), Jason Lowery (Antarctichrist), and former band member John Volker in a group vocal chorus as forceful and threatening as the chugging riffs driving the song.
It may have felt a lifetime between albums but Gravehammer wonderfully shows the return of VORE was worth waiting for. The album might not be driving death metal in new directions or creating deeply unique new experiences but its parade of the blackest and most deeply rewarding slabs of slow punishing and welcomingly penetrating sounds is one of the most honest and satisfying releases heard these past months and there have been quite a few fine contenders.