Review Summary: Hard riffs.
In my bi-weekly rummaging through the e-crypts of Bandcamp, releases like Grave Infestation’s demo, Infesticide
, tend to slip under my radar quite easily. After all, there is no shortage of budding death metal groups adorning their work with monochromatic tape foldouts, or monikers befitting horror game stages that wound up on the cutting floor. Grave Infestation seemed to fit the mould too well to ‘wow’ me; they’re unsigned, have zero presence on social media and information on the members is practically non-existent. Because it was a slow day, I figured I’d listen once or twice and maybe end up including it on a year-end list – in which its cover would add to my compendium’s ravishing grimness. I didn’t end up doing that though, because this isn’t just another disposable simulacrum of something greater. As I returned with some degree of regularity, it dawned upon me that Infesticide
, in fact, rules hard.
Every wavelength on this thing – right down to the spooky ‘80s b-movie keyboards – is coated in a film of organic, aural grime as though a cultivation project has gone horribly wrong. The guitars are simultaneously fuzzy and crunchy, the drums are slightly muffled though far from buried, and the gritty bass-work is as much a leading force as either of the former. It’s difficult to tell if these tones are the result of deliberation or a lack of funds, because to get such a balanced, filled-out sound in light of what we know implies there is aptitude in droves here. This carries over to the performances as well, which are much tighter than the torrent of bass and fuzz would suggest at first. Grave Infestation seem well aware of this, too.
The stumbling rhythms that open “Mortality Rate” are like a zombie that can be evaded with a brisk walk, inducing a wry smile and maybe some hollow mockery from the pursued. The frenzied tremolo-picked riffs and blasts that follow, however, quickly snap you from any lackadaisical state. This toying with expectations continues into “Death Bait”, switching up between doom complete with anguished leads and punk-imbued death in the vein of Entombed and Dismember. Despite the band somewhat exhausting their little trove of ideas by the end, the tempo shifts and death-doom dynamics keep the demo from stagnating and your ears from tiring. Throw in some licks that have knack for remaining in your head long after they’ve ceased, and what you have is grim presentation met with fine execution. Though it remains to be seen if Grave Infestation’s formula can withstand the rigours of a full-length, it makes the most of the demo format’s brevity.