There are a lot of extreme metal songs out there where the vocals are really just an accent or an afterthought, with the vocals struggling to match up with musical instrumentation that carries the lion’s share of the load. What you’re about to hear, however, is a song where the burden is almost — almost — reversed.
Especially at first, the vocals on Gravefields‘ new song “Pilgrims of Amirah” are so stunningly monstrous, macabre, and frighteningly deranged that you almost don’t notice the music around them, though perhaps that’s because the instrumentation is also deranged — and dangerously destructive.
This isn’t the first time we’ve hosted a premiere for a release by Gravefields, but because almost exactly four years have passed since the last time, it’s worth a reminder that the core of the band is a duo consisting of Irish multi-instrumentalist Alan Hurley and French lyricist/vocalist Thomas Blanc (aka “DM“), who has a very long resume of vocal credits. On the band’s forthcoming second album Tetragrammaton, they’re joined by bassist Paul Girvin.
Tetragrammaton is a concept album whose focus is messianism. It uses fictional events and religions, but was inspired by the rise of messianic figures in the 17th century, and in the music the band have harnessed elements of both black and death metal to create an experience that’s both crushing and unearthly.
Which brings us back to “Pilgrims of Amirah“. As we’ve already previewed, the vocals are horrifying — an amalgam of ghastly strangled screams, crazed yells, guttural roars, and noxious gagging expulsions. You probably won’t ever get used to them, because they’re so bestial, so right in your face, and so constantly varying.
But eventually you will become more focused on the music, which is itself monstrous. Massive chainsaw-toned riffs and bowel-loosening bass heaviness commingle with whining and whirring leads that elevate like the fantasies of a psychotic mind. The song as a whole seems to rise, like a monument of hideous grandeur, segmented by bursts of instrumental demolition.
The music seizes attention in a different way when guitar solos appear — wailing, swaying, convulsing, and flickering like a wraith in their tracery of exotic Eastern melodies. But the sheer destructive power of the song is unrelenting, and if anything becomes even more obliterating, culminating in a devastating infliction of pile-driving brutishness augmented by shrieking string torture.
Tetragrammaton was recorded in Egypt and mixed in Spain by Alan Hurley, and it was mastered by Korwent at Spearhead Sounds. Featuring cover art by Artem Astaroth, it will be co-released on June 29th by Satanath Records (Georgia), Australis Records (Chile), and Vrykoblast Productions (Singapore).
It will be available digitally and in a jewel-case CD edition with an 8-page booklet, and it comes recommended for fans of Dismember, Grave, Behemoth, Napalm Death, and Watain.