Graveripper – Seasons Dreaming Death

Indianapolis thrash quartet, Graveripper, started life as a solo project of Corey Parks (vocalist/guitarist) under the name of Death Ensemble. They changed to their present moniker in 2019 and released their debut EP, Complete Blinding Darkness, in 2020. Another EP followed a year later, and they now present their first full-length offering on Wise Blood Records. Parks calls their inaugural album a “refined expansion”, with more emphasis on bringing in their black metal and traditional heavy metal influences. On Seasons Dreaming Death, they roughen their thrash metal attack the same way an advancing battalion of soldiers protect their rear with barbed wire entrenchments.

It’s no secret that Graveripper looks towards the menace and might of Teutonic thrash for their inspiration, but the commanding hand of early Metallica is never far away. Opener, ‘Into the Grave’, burns through the fuel like a fleet of German tanks smashing through the Ardennes Forest. You’ll find no sign of the pre-1983 speed metal pulse of blackened thrash – this is pure Death Angel intensity with a fierce proto-death metal bark. The album title sums up the lyrical mood of this record on follow-up, ‘Ripped and Torn Apart’, which reads like a serial killer’s diary: “Cause of death never will be known / Nameless grave unknown / Mess of bones bludgeoning / Battered bashing head / Reaching climax once I know you’re dead.” Imagine these words set to a ‘Damage Inc’ battery of guitars and biting mid-range power chords.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a thrash metal album with none of the tongue-in-cheek humour of Venom and Mercyful Fate. In the main, this is true. That’s because Graveripper are serious students of Norwegian black metal rather than admirers of its Bathory and Celtic Frost origins. ‘Divine Incantations’ and the excellent ‘Premeditated’ ripple like blood-scented sharks in shallow waters. The former is what Sepultura’s Beneath the Remains would sound like with a makeover from Immortal. Amon Amarth’s valiant bravery shines through in the latter. Of course, Kreator’s shadow lurks in the background. ‘An Influx of Fear’ grits its teeth in a barrage of skank beats and malevolent vocal abrasions that grimace like a defiant prisoner of war under the guillotine.

At thirty-three minutes in length, Graveripper understand that their audio offensive would soon run out of juice if they put too much strain on the listener. You’ll find it easy to raise a fist for the Megadeth frenzy of ‘Resist Against the Light’. Listen to the velocity of the alt-picking and the punctuation of tremolo fills among the rapid hammer on/pull off techniques – is this not the reason why you listen to guitar-based music?

Striking the balance between the macabre metal sub-genres is the greatest achievement of this album. Closing track, ‘Only Coldness’, might go down as the most unsentimental song of the year. “Now, here at the end / Terminus learned / Find out the dirt / Is what you earned / Your life was a waste / Only coldness awaits.” The atmospheric black metal chords and plentiful death grunts show the way for those bands hoping to put a patent on their thrash metal foundations.

Graveripper are not about to reinvent the blackened thrash genre – that’s impossible for a movement that started as a modern take on a European heavy metal moment in time in 1985. But only the most hardened critic would dismiss Seasons Dreaming Death as a throwback. This is metal with a capital M.



Release Date: 25/08/2023

Record Label: Wise Blood Records

Standout tracks: Into the Grave, Premeditated, Resist Against the Light

Suggested Further Listening: Legion of the Damned – The Poison Chalice (2023), Bloodbeat – Process of Extinction (2021), Immortal – War Against All (2023)