Review: Gruesome – Twisted Prayers

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Maybe it’s because I’ve spent a large chunk of my life living in central Florida or perhaps its because I love old school death metal too much. Whatever the reason, when I heard that everyone’s favorite Death tribute band, Gruesome was releasing a new album I knew had to listen to it.

Gruesome’s new album Twisted Prayers is the band’s second full-length release and is out now through Relapse Records. For those unfamiliar with Gruesome, the band’s origins stem from guitarist/vocalist Matt Harvey and drummer Gus Rios’ involvement with the Death To All tours. They both decided to form a band that would be a direct homage to the early music of Death. In 2014, Gruesome formed with Robin Mazen and Daniel Gonzalez joining both Matt Harvey and Gus Rios. Daniel Gonzalez became the band’s second guitarist while Robin Mazen became the band’s bassist.

Looking at the album cover for Twisted Prayers one can see the Death influence already with the album cover looking like a combination of Death’s Spiritual Healing and Scream Bloody Gore album covers. Gruesome may look the part with this album cover but can they sound like it as well?

Starting off the album is the track “Inhumane”, which could sound like any number of early Death songs of the band’s first three albums. While instrumentally you could be fooled into thinking that this Death, its Matt Harvey’s vocals which make you realize this isn’t Death. Up next on the album is “A Waste of Life” which has a Spiritual Healing vibe to it. Lyrically this song reminds of some of the themes talked about on both Spiritual Healing and Human. This track also reaffirms Matt Harvey’s vocal style, which seems more akin to Chase Mason of Gatecreeper than Chuck Schuldiner.

Up next on the album is the song “Fate” which seems to have its roots in the Scream Bloody Gore era of Death, but the solos on the track seem to be more inspired by Obituary. Coming in after “Fate” is the song “Lethal Legacy’ which retains the Spiritual Healing vibe seen on most of the album so far.

Track number five on the album is “Fatal Illusions” which has very nice mix of old school death metal and thrash. On this track the Death influences seem much more subtle on this track, which is complemented by Matt Harvey’s vocals which makes this track seem more like homage rather than just a tribute. Adding a Leprosy vibe to this album is “Crusade of Brutality”, which aside from a few impressive solos is slow track that just churns along.

The last two tracks on this album are “At Death’s Door” and “Twisted Prayers”. As with most of the other songs on this album, both tracks wear their Death influences on their sleeves. Both songs are good but I find myself getting a little tired by this point in the album.

This album and Gruesome as a whole leave me conflicted. As massive fan of Death I love that there is a band paying tribute to such a great band, but a part of me feels like I should just listen to a Death album if I want to hear them so much. My internal conflicts aside, this album is a well-executed tribute to Death’s early material, which does seem a bit repetitive at times though. In spite of that, I give this album

4 out of 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

You check out Gruesome by visiting their Facebook or by visiting their Bandcamp,  where you can stream and purchase their music.

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