Gruesome – Twisted Prayers

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Reviewed: July, 2018
Released: 2018, Relapse Records
Rating: 2.5 / 5
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson

It would seem that the super sideband Gruesome – which features Exhumed frontman/guitarist Matt Harvey, ex-Malevolent Creation drummer Gus Rios and ex-Possessed guitarist Daniel Gonzalez – are in this Death-worship thing for the long haul, for better or worse. After a spot-on homage to Death’s Scream Bloody Gore and Leprosy albums with the Savage Land full-length in 2015 and Dimensions of Horror EP in 2016, they are at it again with Twisted Prayers.

Here it’s the somewhat more sophisticated Spiritual Healing era of Death that Gruesome have wrapped their bloody mitts around. This is the album where Death began steering away from the gnarliness of their earlier work and pursuing more progressive endeavors. And as with the previous releases, Gruesome have captured the spirit of the original with reverent aplomb, all the way down to the Ed Repka-painted cover art and some guest solos from ex-Death guitarist James Murphy, both of whom were featured on the original. It was even recorded in Orlando, Fla., and boasts the requisite, thick and chunky sound of vintage Florida death metal.

Performance-wise, Twisted Prayers proves these guys – and gal, bassist Robin Mazen – are adept and adaptable mimics, able to take the soul of the original source material and craft it into new songs. The churn-and-burn riffing, dog-fight solos, chug-and-sprint drumming, vocal phrasing and delivery and more pointed, topical lyrical themes that made Spiritual Healing a turning point for Death are carefully and lovingly recreated here. And even though these guys are old pros, the songs show some development over Savage Land, with more complexity and nuance instead of mere bludgeon – although there is still plenty of that. “Crusade of Brutality” – one of two tracks to feature Murphy, the other being “At Death’s Door” – is definitely more of a promise than a threat here.

But to what end? Savage Land and, to an extent, Dimensions of Horror had a novelty factor that gave them a certain charm and even purpose. Twisted Prayers seems more than a bit of piling on, or exploiting Death’s name – which arguably has been exploited enough with the Death To All tours that now seem to have wrapped. The execution is all well and good, but the intent? Maybe not so much.


Track Listing


1. Inhumane
2. A Waste of Life
3. Fate
4. Lethal Legacy
5. Fatal Illusions
6. Crusade of Brutality
7. At Death’s Door
8. Twisted Prayers

Matt Harvey – guitar, vocals
Daniel Gonzalez – guitar
Robin Mazen – bass
Gus Rios – drums