April 28, 2016 | , | 3.75

Gruesome, Savage Land

Gruesome: Savage Land

Gruesome, spearheaded by Malevolent Creation’s Gus Rios and Exhumed’s Matt Harvey, may have started out as a Death tribute, but what the group has done with their debut effort Savage land does more than just pay homage. Billed as a missing release between two seminal Death albums, Leprosy and Spiritual Healing, the eight songs here have come the closest to any new material sounding just like classic material from back in the day.

Harvey’s vocals — even his guitar work — are uncanny in their resemblance to Chuck Schuldiner’s iconic screams and instrumentation. Hell, even the production tone is nearly spot on. There are so many cues across the entire expanse of Savage Land that you’re brain will be doing double takes at every drum pattern or guitar riff. Each song sound as though they could have come from either Death album mentioned above, ringing a bell of familiarity even though you’ve never heard any before.

And it’s not just the retro sound emanating from my speakers that smacks of Death. Song titles (“Closed Casket”) and track placement all have cues hinting at Death’s discography. Some standout, memory-inducing moments include the 3:00 mark on the opening title track, the chorus of “Trapped in Hell,” the opening drum work of “Gangrene,” and and the sickening riffs of the previously mentioned “Closed Casket.”

All in all, Savage Land is a fun album that is capably performed and produced. It reminds so much of classic Death material, but in the end, it’s not. It’s an homage to one of the greatest bands and songwriters in death metal and should be taken as such. That said, I’m gonna play this bastard again.