GRAVEHILL
"Death Curse"

( Dark Descent)

01. Gates of Hell
02. Death Curse
03. At Hell's Command
04. Open Their Throats
05. Fear the Reaper
06. Unending Lust for Evil
07. Black Blood Rising
08. Crucified
09. The Ascending Fire

RATING: 7/10

Cali death mongers GRAVEHILL are back following their 2011 album "When All Roads Lead to Hell". Those who have followed this band know GRAVEHILL officially began in 2001 with their "Practitioners of Fell Sorcery" EP before calling it quits as fast as they'd arrived. In 2006, GRAVEHILL was reassembled with drummer Brett "Thorgrimm" Davis leading the group as lone founding member.

On the band's third full-length, "Death Curse", Thorgrimm, along with his ralph machine Mike Abominator, dirty up an already nasty sound. However, countering GRAVEHILL's mucky sewage tones is solid guitar artillery courtesy of 2012 arrivals Hell Messiah and (heh heh) C.C. DeKill.

With a batty stage name like C.C. DeKill, you'd best be ready to bring it, even for band mates bearing likewise goofy handles, including bassist J.T. Corpse. Fortunately for death metal freaks, the silliness ends there and "Death Curse" is a hard-driving record that would be shambolic without the constricted guitar lines (often mashed up between VENOM and early SEPULTURA) DeKill and Hell Messiah bring to the table.

As long as you can handle Mike Abominator's mower-esque throat burbling and Thorgrimm's overexcited thrash flails, "Death Curse" has enough buzzing guitar chords, jamming riff structures and fiery shredding to give you a good time. Essentially, guitars and bass keep "Death Curse" as snug as it can be, considering loose cannon Mike Abominator often sounds like he's pinched the ring yowls of long-ago pro wrestler Iron "Mike" Sharpe and it's hard not to chuckle accordingly. Sometimes Abominator hits such deep, nauseating gurgles, you're well-advised to keep away from chili dogs or raw eggs while this album's spinning.

Most of "Death Curse" is rolled out briskly with the mincing title track, "Unending Lust for Evil" and "At Hell's Command", while "Crucified" hits a classic hardcore strut on the verses before belting out quicker and chunkier tempos, plus layering riffs and gang shout choruses. While the slow 'n' scary "Open Their Throats" begs for an open window to dive out screaming from, "Fear the Reaper" mercifully changes the tone to somewhat upbeat. "Fear the Reaper" emerges as the coolest cut on "Death Curse" with its mid-tempo bang and humming bass licks from J.T. Corpse.

"Death Curse" isn't the best you can do in death metal, but it's clear Thorgrimm continues to believe in this band. His faith in the new lineup seems justified since they mesh well, mostly on the front line. There's work to be done before GRAVEHILL can be considered a great death metal act, but the talented front loads of C.C. DeKill and Hell Messiah gives them tools to refine with, if refinement is even an objective in this camp.

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