Pissgrave – Suicide Euphoria: A Review
The name Pissgrave appeared in our consciousness as a whisper last year. Pissgrave, Pissgrave. They released a vulgar seven track demo of raw Death Metal, notable for pitch-shifted vocals over extreme instrumentation and the obscene cover on the cassette. Pissgrave, Pissgrave. The whisper increased to a roar as Pissgrave landed a coveted opening spot on a short tour with Dead Congregation, whom Profound Lore labelhead Chris Bruni called “the most important band in death metal today”. Limited quantities of their 2014 demo sold out almost immediately, and reports from those concerts surfaced of Pissgrave’s intense live performances played at eardrum puncturing volumes. This year, news appeared on the usual social media outlets of Pissgrave’s signing to Profound Lore Records. First, their logo appeared on Profound Lore’s Facebook page with no other news. Later, information regarding their debut album Suicide Euphoria surfaced as well.
We live at what some would consider the apex of music fandom, with an ever-expanding and nearly unlimited supply of music at our fingertips within seconds (though not everyone shares that view). Last year, I heard the Pissgrave whispers and became infatuated with the band. I listened to the three songs available to me (above, here, and here) over and over and over again. Not satisfied with only a fraction of the demo, I ordered the cassette from a distro in Belgium. Fast forward to present day: the band with a penchant for morbid album covers is back.
On Suicide Euphoria, the band avoids the heady intellectualism of skronk (dissonant death metal), and the polished technicality of many modern death metal bands. They don’t fit well into the brutal death metal camp occupied by sub-genre titans Defeated Sanity, or into the sepulchral death metal movement like Grave Miasma. They also avoid the amalgamation of styles like many bands of today, bands that play death/grind/hardcore/whatever. Pissgrave play raw death metal – a mean spirited razing of guitars, drums, and bass.
Suicide Euphoria spans nine tracks over roughly thirty minutes. Four songs from their 2014 Demo have been repurposed here: “Fields of Scattered Bones”, “The Second Sorrowful Mystery”, “Prevail in Hell”, and “Blood Fog”. Pissgrave recruited Arthur Rizk to produce, who is known for producing Power Trip, Inquisition, and Prurient’s 2015 record on Profound Lore, Frozen Niagara Falls. Having listened to the demo obsessively, there is a big boost in quality- just don’t expect a polished sheen from a big name producer here. The production is still thick and murky, like an abandoned morgue.
Pissgrave adopt an unusual approach to vocals compared to many death metal bands. They are wildly pitch-shifted, and form a hellish miasma against the claustrophobic atmosphere (check out the intro to “Fields of Scattered Bones”). They don’t vary much. They don’t need to. As an aside, unfortunately, the vocals are placed ever so slightly lower in the mix than on their demo. Their almost constant presence is a huge plus here. I couldn’t imagine them with different vocals.
Suicide Euphoria generally moves at a faster clip than mid-paced acts like Bolt Thrower or Hail of Bullets. The band plays aggressively and profanely. They don’t set out to dazzle listeners with futuristic riffs. As Toilet ov Hell author Simon Phoenix so eloquently put it, “there is a certain charm to their viciousness”. Guitars shred into riff salad on many of the tracks, but moments like the intro to “The Second Sorrowful Wind” point to an era of hightop white Reeboks. The album could use a few more of those moments. Many of the songs blur together. The viciousness is consistent but highlights are scarce.
Due to the onslaught of new heavy metal to choose from on a weekly basis, record label PR has taken to calling every album the Heaviest, Most Crushing, Most Masterfully Played, or in this particular case “one of the sickest, rawest, most depraved and violent death metal releases of the year”. Rookie bands are often compared to legends. Understandable. It’s an effort to make releases matter in a sea of quality music. Heavy metal blogs follow suit, proclaiming many notable releases albums of the year, until the following week’s coverage. It’s how they get you to read them (I’ve done the same damn thing). Suicide Euphoria is a solid debut. Pissgrave are good at what they do, and reminder, their vocals are fantastic. This is a good album. It’s just not a great one.
You can check it out for yourself. Suicide Euphoria is out August 7th.
Cover photo via