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The Grotesquery
Curse of the Skinless Bride
July 2015
Released: 2015, Cyclone Empire
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz

The Grotesquery are a multi-national death metal ensemble helmed by journeyman guitarist Rogga Johansson and legendary vocalist Kam Lee, and have recently released the third in a trilogy of concept albums, THE CURSE OF THE SKINLESS BRIDE. Though the storyline across the three albums is a bit convoluted (something about a detective named Mason Hamilton and a variety of Lovecraftian related horrors), the tunes themselves are a throwback to classic, old school death metal that does well in the care of a Johansson/Lee collaboration.

Musically, the band’s wheelhouse is stockpiled with riffs from the early Swedish and Florida scenes (duh), which may not be the most dexterous or dynamic source material for such a heady conceptual piece, but it gets the job done. The album’s 14 tracks are intermingled with eight core tunes and a six spoken word narrations. The narrative portions are pretty pointless; the background effects and reverb on Lee’s voice make his storytelling almost unintelligible, with only every third word coming through clearly. I would’ve preferred the band skipped this effort all together, as it only distracts between songs and breaks up the continuity.

But the eight core tunes are solid; there’s a heavy influence of Nihilist and Massacre riffs a plenty, but it doesn’t sound recycled. Quite the opposite; one of Johansson's strengths as a musician is being able to take these kind of familiar tomes and put a fresh spin on them. Straight up ragers like “Unholy Reprisal” and “Rise-Advent of the Crooked Man” are few and far between, with most of the album settling into mid-tempo juggernauts like “Her Exquisite Corpse” and “Hasturs Homecoming”. The latter are no less lethal than the former, but it’s the difference between a prolonged bludgeoning vs. wild, chainsaw accuracy. Occasionally, the band steps out of its comfort zone, but with mixed results; “Downfall” attempts to incorporate some doomier moments but ends up overstaying its welcome, and the closing “ This is the End” offers an attempt at some Sisters of Mercy-esque seriousness in the chorus, but ends up sounding more awkward than goth.

The Grotesquery presents itself as ever faithful disciples of the old school, and that reverence is on full display with CURSE OF THE SKINLESS BRIDE. Side-stepping the conceptual aspirations of the album, it’s a totally competent and worthwhile listen for anybody with a soft spot for classic Massacre, Entombed, Obituary, et al. I’m definitely curious to hear where The Grotesquery takes us next.
Track Listing

1. Intro / Unholy Reprisal - Resurrection of the Coffin Born
2. The Missing and the Detective's Hunch
3. Return to the House of Grotesque
4. Of Death and Unspeakable Things
5. Her Exquisite Corpse - The Skinless Bride
6. Frightful Sight of the Skinless Corpse and the Worm
7. Downfall - It's All Gone to Hell
8. Rise - The Advent of the Crooked Man
9. The Creature and the Elder Sign
10. Magnum Innominandum - He of the Yellow Sign
11. Thy Kingdom Infernal - A Promise of Hell
12. Hasturs Homecoming - All Hell Awaits
13. This Is the End
14. The Betrayer and the Man Child


Rogga Johansson – Guitars
Kam Lee – Vocals
Johan Berglund – Bass
Brynjar Helgetun – Drums

Other reviews

» Curse of the Skinless Bride
by Aaron Yurkiewicz

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