Gravestone – Proud to be Dead

Rating: 4/5
Distributor/label: Sliptrick Records
Distributor/label URL: https://sliptrickrecords.com/
Released: 2017
Buy Album: https://www.amazon.com/Proud-Be-Dead-Gravestone/dp/B06ZY6KZW6/ref=tmm_acd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1495401100&sr=8-1
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/Gravestoneofficial

rsz_1gravestoneBand line-up:

Alessandro Iacobellis – Vocals
Marco Borrani – Guitar
Gabriele Maschietti – Guitar
David Folchitto – Drums
Massimiliano MaaX Salvatori – Bass
Fabrizio Di Carlantonio – Keyboards

Tracklisting:

1. Proud to be Dead
2. Corpse Embodiment
3. Eyes Without Sight
4. Flagellation
5. Matres

Review:

Now here’s an interesting back-story. Gravestone formed back in the early 90s, disbanding after putting out their first and only EP. Now, over two decades later, they return and release their second. Having listened to it, I can definitely say I’m glad they did.

Gravestone brings us five songs of high quality progressive death metal. Right from the off it’s clear the band know what they’re doing and have a good grasp of how to write rewarding songs in this style, managing to keep a constantly rotating mixture of tempos and textures without ever feeling like they’re stretching. The blending of Scandinavian death metal and progressive showmanship might not be new by this point (though the band’s origins earn it some significant leeway on that), but good music is good music, and this is good prog death.

Outside of the obvious comparisons to frontrunners of the style like Death or Edge of Sanity, I found a lot of this reminding me of Sigh with the keyboard flourishes, raspy vocals and almost playful lead work. It struts and dances about with confidence, just as likely to throw out raspy whispers over a keyboard-driven melody as it is to use guttural snarls over blast beats, and will neatly flit between the two as it goes. The softer sections have the morbid chill of a graveyard. It doesn’t go as avant-garde as Sigh do, but there’s plenty of variety within the songs, and the layers within them give it rewarding value under multiple listens.

In fact if there’s anything that the EP suffers from it’s a bit of a tendency to meander. It never feels like mindless prog indulgence, nor that it’s repeating itself, but a bit more focus within the songs themselves might help to give them clearer identities. Still, as something of a sampler of what Gravestone can do, this works excellently. I’m glad these guys got together again, and look forward to a full-length with some tighter focus in the songs. Anyone who likes competent progressive extreme metal with an emphasis on flowing song-writing above pure technicality, check this out.

Review by Kieron Hayes
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