There are some things that almost guarantee (to me) the quality of a thrash metal album, and one of the most assuring is having a cover done by none other than the “King of Thrash Metal Art”, Ed Repka. Mr. Repka has done art for everyone from concept pieces for the Hellraiser movies, to creating none-other than Vic Rattlehead, MEGADETH’s iconic permanently recurring skeletal mascot. Point being, when you see a Repka cover, you know. He is highly sought after individual with prices to match, which is unfortunate because it does lead to certain groups with means being able to masquerade as having the same amount of dedication and power as bands under the same artistic veil as greats like DEATH, ENTOMBED, and DESTRUCTION.
THROUGH DIVINE UNLIGHT COMETH MORE WORTHWHILE CONTENT BRANDED WITH BY THE KING HIMSELF.
(GRUESOME TWISTED PRAYERS ALBUM COVER)
From the darkened United States, GRUESOME return from a black and terrifying dimension of horror to present to us the horrors of the corporeal. Those which lurk in the brightest of light committing the cruelest of acts. So, let’s start at the apparent, with DAT COVER. What a lovely congregation wouldn’t you say? Lively bunch to say the least! It reminds me very much of the Netflix movie “THE RITUAL” for those in the know. The character given to each individual church-goer is easily equal to the amount of attention and details given to our pious preacherman. The colours are resplendent, and the attention to teeny details is almost chilling. It’s art. You need to just sit down an stare at this masterpiece and appreciate it as we go through a few select tracks.
SELECT TRACK ONE: INHUMANE
Anti-Police State lyrics and Leprosy-era DEATH sound make this EXACTLY HOW YOU OPEN AN ALBUM. We have actually moved into a musical cookie-cutter where every band needs to have all the following nonsense on the album to maintain pattern:
- A slow intro song. Though sometimes instrumental to the cohesion of an album, 99% of the time, they are horrible time fillers.
- A sad song.
- A loooong song. Seriously though, can we stop with throwing a 20-minute epic on every god damn album?
GRUESOME does NONE of these things. They just create a definitive soundscape, matching only the BEST aspects of their predecessors and any of the former or current bands they represent. (Exhumed, Possessed, Malevolent Creation, etc)
SELECT TRACK TWO: FATAL ILLUSION
Now, I’m not going to dig into what the backing footage is for this one too hard, because I feel like if you don’t know what it is, you might be part of the problem. Telling war stories bloodied with survivors guilt or victors embellishment isn’t something we can nurture anymore. It propagates what drives us apart as a species. Moving sound-wise in more of a “HUMAN” (by DEATH) sort of tone, this track shows that they wanted far more stand-out and forefront guitar licks. Bringing what may be Gruesome’s greatest strength to into the light, and that strength is actually the flawless mimicry that they provide. They actually manage to sound like more of something that many metalheads thought for years, was unreplicable.
SELECT TRACK THREE: A WASTE OF LIFE.
Admittedly, it does seem almost cliche to have an anti-religious song as a metal band nowadays. We’ve all heard it, we all get it, we’re all going to hell and you want to kill the devil.
That was the attitude I went into this one with. It was wrong. This is a direct call-out to corrupt pastors, kissing hands in their vestiments whilst pocketing 15% of each hardworking member of their flock. Aside from being a grand accompaniment to the cover art, I would weigh in that A WASTE OF LIFE is the most unique track on the entire album, giving each musician a little leeway, as it were. The drums get to do more cuts than skanks, the guitars sound like they were recorded in 2020 with 1980’s gear, and the vocal become more crisp with each record.
Gruesome is fucking beautiful, and they’ve nowhere near begun to rot. Go give this album a listen in full anywhere it’s streaming. Youtube/Spotify/Bandcamp/Earache Records.
DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YA!
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