Reviewed: February 2018
Released: 2018, Raw Skull Recordz
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Just what we need, another Swe-death band, right? But there’s a wiliness and hint of cheek about Växjö-based Gravestone that sets them apart from numerous others of their ilk and makes their debut full-length an engaging, even refreshing effort.
On the surface, these guys seem like every other Entombed/Dismember-come-lately. Gnarly band name and album title? Check. Creepy, Dan Seagraves-like cover art? You bet – indeed cover artist Patrik Tegnander does a pretty righteous knockoff here. Husqvarna chainsaw guitar tone? Defiantly so. The band is even fronted by Pontus ”Penki” Samuelson, who plays guitar with fellow old school Swe-deathsters Entrails.
Yet Gravestone’s loose, almost punk-rock delivery, somewhat less serious tone – with tracks like the Ramonesy “Behead The Bastard” and Misfits-like “Necromaniac,” or the low-brow “Rest In Piss” and “Fucking Your Corpse In Hell” – and preference for crunch over sheer velocity takes the familiar and gives it a little something extra. It’s less calculating or reverent, and seems more intent on celebrating the old school sound as opposed to merely mimicking it.
Sickening is lively and remarkably catchy, despite Samuelson’s raspy holler and the abrasive barrage of riffs he and Magnus Karlsson dole out with abandon. Just about every song here has a meaty hook, sing-along chorus and crafty solo to draw you in – indeed, “Fucking Your Corpse In Hell” is one of the most inviting tunes here. Really only the closing track, “Murderous Intentions,” has the ominous Left Hand Path-like vibe other old-school revivalists insist on reveling in – only to end up sounding like everyone else.
It’s not often one can describe a death metal album as “fun,” but Sickening actually fits the bill. It will kick your ass, but leave a smile on your face and perhaps have you humming “Behead The Bastard” long after it’s over.