Gravehuffer – …Depart from so Much Evil

You might mistake Missouri quartet, Gravehuffer, for a band that write music for conscience-plagued necrophiles. They don’t, but their crusty death-grind noise experiment is too ugly for punk, too abstract for death metal, and too progressive for grindcore. Their fourth album promises to continue their evolution from the 1990s crust punk scene that spawned the members in various groups before they formed Krom (2008-2010) and founded Gravehuffer as the successor band. At thirty-eight minutes and six tracks, with a closing song of twenty-two minutes, you can assume that the Joplin natives will be giving you more of the unknown on …Depart from so Much Evil.

A glance at the lyrics tells you much about the band’s origins. Sludgy doom metal chords and dialogue film samples set the scene for an onslaught of vitriol against the nine-to-five salaried existence that renders millions of people innocuous and cowardly (including this reviewer). “Routine a blueprint for an early grave/ Obligations, cumbersome/ Stones around my neck/ Robbed of time, stripped of serenity,” screams the vocalist over the top of a grimy death metal riff. Dig deeper and you’ll hear a similar vibe to the peculiar groove of Sepultura’s ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ but with sharp flurries of blast beats in between each vocal line.

The main experiment of this album is its division of labour. Each of the four band members penned lyrics and music for at least one of the six songs. ‘Slayberry’ proves you can still retain punk credibility through playing filthy death metal, much like the heavier material from the last two Napalm Death records. There are no solos or double-kick patterns or digital enhancement of the guitars – this is the sound of four people in a live studio playing at ferocious levels of aggression. ‘The Cryptid and the Iron Bird’ is as much powerviolence as it is grindcore, yet you can hear black metal shrieks and grimy bass distortion among the chaos. Why they throw in a 1970s glam rock solo towards the end as if swapping the cargo shorts for the jump suits of the New York Dolls will leave you with a furrowed brow. But it works.

You often assume a collective of veterans from the crust punk scene will stay away from long-form music. This is where Gravehuffer enjoy the challenge of transforming your expectations. The twenty-two minutes of the closing title-track take Dante’s epic Inferno poem for lyrical inspiration and introduce cello, tuba and trombone into the mix. It’s a wise decision to space out a narrative-driven song when the main ingredients are sludgy death metal guitars and crusty hardcore chord sequences. Todd Morrison (drums) and Ritchie Randall (guitars) take their playing to new levels here with a telepathic tirade of blackened hardcore violence. Vocalist, Travis McKenzie, trades vocal transgressions with Kam Lee (Massacre, ex-Mantas/ex-Death) and does a good job of showcasing his schizophrenic range of voice in between a three-minute interlude of layered purgatory screams and charnel house noise effects. It’s an extended sojourn through hell, but the ending feels as comfortable as a peaceful walk in the cemetery in the early hours of the morning. Few people will share your liking for such an enterprise, but those that appreciate the pastime will know the value of this composition.

Gravehuffer pride themselves on their eclectic tastes and their unorthodox approach to extreme metal. We need more artists like them.



Release Date: 17/02/2023

Record Label: Black Doomba Records

Standout tracks: Blueprint for an Early Grave, Slayberry, Brainstorm

Suggested Further Listening: Destroyed in Seconds – Divide and Devour (2021), Snafu – Exile // Banishment (2021), Industrial Puke – Where Life Crisis Starts EP (2022)