There’s so much more to Gruesome than mere Death-worship. Well ok, there isn’t. But the band have always been explicit in their intention to pay homage to the late, great Chuck Schuldiner and keep the spirit of his extraordinary music alive. With their 2015 debut, Savage Land, they did that with aplomb… and created one of that year’s finest death metal records in the process.
While Savage Land took its cues from Death’s landmark ’88 opus Leprosy, Gruesome have embraced a little Spiritual Healing on Twister Prayers: a natural progression, it sees the US act add greater complexity to their relentless barrage and inject their music with multiple rhythmic contortions. Fate, for instance, shifts up and down the gears with ease, while never deviating to far from its malevolent core, while Fatal Illusions (one of the finest tracks here) sees guitarists Matt Harvey and Daniel Gonzalez pull a flurry of A-grade riffs out of their lockers – riffs that wouldn’t have been out of place in Schuldiner’s late 80s/early 90s arsenal. And we know that’s saying something.
It certainly helps that Gruesome themselves boast a fine array of talent in their ranks. In more inexperienced hands, Twister Prayers – like its predecessor – could have turned into an uninspiring pastiche. But with the likes of Exhumed, Possessed and Malevolent Creation on the band’s collective CV, there was really no chance of that happening. And as former Death six stringer James Murphy also makes a contribution – via some exquisite solos on Crusade Of Brutality and Death’s Door – there’s even more reason to sit up and take notice… if you haven’t already.
Of course, there’ll be some metalheads who’ll ignore Gruesome on the grounds that they are bringing little new to the table: but with albums like Twisted Prayers, the quartet are ensuring that a gamechanging chapter in music history is recreated with the respect it deserves.