Death metal is an art form taken to extremes. It was never meant to be mainstream or radio-friendly. Chuck Schuldiner, the mastermind behind Death, knew this, and he wrote songs with no regard for the mainstream. He was a genius who left a legacy of impressive, important, albums for the world after his untimely death from cancer in 2001.
Exhumed‘s Matt Harvey formed Gruesome in 2014 as the ultimate tribute to Death after playing the “Death To All” tours. The band models each album after a specific Death album, and Twisted Prayers is their take on the masterpiece Spiritual Healing. Daniel Gonzalez (Possessed) perfectly complements Harvey on guitars, and they mesh together to provide the yin and yang of rhythm guitars and shredding solos. Robin Mazen (Derketa) is a partner to both on bass, and Gus Rios (Evil Amidst) rounds out the lineup on drums.
“Inhumane” opens the album up in a blistering fashion. The riffs are razor sharp, and the song chugs along at a breakneck pace. Harvey’s vocals don’t quite have the depth of Schuldiner’s, but then again, this is a tribute to Death and not a knock off. “A Waste Of Life” really brings forth the skill these musicians possess, highlighted by chugging, slow tempo parts and a warp-speed, traditional death metal pace. “Fate” keeps kicks things up a notch both in speed and technicality, and “Lethal Legacy” relies more on harmony and groove than the previous songs. It truly reminds me of something Schuldiner would have written, and the guitar solo is crushing. “Fatal Illusions” picks the pace back up to frantic, until mid-point, where the guitars and riffs take over. The title track is dark and riff-heavy. There are also two bonus tracks, and they both are killer!
Gruesome may have recorded an homage to Death with Twisted Prayers, but it stands on it’s own as one hell of a good death metal album.
Twisted Prayers is out now on Relapse Records. Buy it here!