|Cover art by Ed Repka|
Exhumed's Matt Harvey is no stranger to Death's classic material (well, yes, everything by Death is classic material), specifically Scream Bloody Gore, Leprosy, and Spiritual Healing. Having served time in the first incarnation of Death To All, the star studded tribute to Chuck Schuldiner and all things Death, Harvey obviously let the experience percolate, resulting in the formation of Gruesome, an homage to early Death.
Teaming up with members and former members of such acts as Malevolent Creation and Possessed, Harvey and company released a two-song demo last year, now properly followed up with Savage Land, the first full-length from Gruesome, released on Relapse Records. Both of those demo songs, by the way, appear on Savage Land.
From the opening riff and mid-paced gallop of the title track, it’s obvious that Gruesome have done their homework. Savage Land sounds EXACTLY like early Death, say, around the time of Leprosy or Spiritual Healing. Harvey’s vocals are the second coming of Schuldiner, only minor changes in chords are necessary for the songs on Savage Land to become cover songs, and even the sound of the snare drum, for crying out loud, is EXACTLY like that on Death’s early albums. You can practically see in your mind’s eye not only Schuldiner performing this material, but Rick Rozz, Terry Butler, and Bill Andrews, as well. This is not to say that Savage Land is just a rip off; the songs are well written, catchy, and just about everything else that we love about this particular style of early death metal. Savage Land is just pure fun.
I expect that Savage Land is going to make a big initial splash, and everyone will demand a tour of some sorts from Gruesome to show it all off. However, how long Gruesome actually lasts playing what is mostly just a really well done homage remains to be seen.