SKULL409

GRAVEWORM, Collateral Defect (2007, Massacre)

The skull:
This would have been a lot more successful if they’d actually painted a crouching naked person to look like a skull, instead of just photoshopping a couple arms onto a skull. What was supposed (I assume) to be some kind of trompe l’oeil ends up looking like a skull sprouting limbs because he can’t think of a better way to get off this cover. You can imagine him grunting as with epic constipation, trying to squeeze out a couple legs so he can beat feet. “Man, I have GOT to get the hell off this Graveworm album. Shit, am I supposed to be in the sky or on the ground? Who can fucking tell? Feets, don’t fail me now!” But the feets, alas, have failed him indeed.

The music:
It seems like Italy’s Graveworm has always been around, always been mediocre. They hearken back to the first wave of shoddy melodic death metal knockoffs from outside of Scandinavia. Back in the early aughts, I heard Graveworm and thought, “This is okay, but there are really much better bands doing this.” Now, I listen Graveworm and think, “This is okay, but do we really still need any bands doing this?” At their worst, they sound like a cheap version of Children of Bodom, dressing up shitty power metal as teen-tough death metal. Fortunately, this is not their primary operating mode. Unfortunately, their primary mode entails highly generic, low-riff-density modern thrash mixed with gothic metal. Remember that shit? At least they don’t resort to contracting half the singing out to some “siren” putting her high school voice lessons to use, but it probably wouldn’t hurt if there were someone else working the mic besides Stefano Fiori, who fails to convince with growls, rasps, and every other technique he employs. I will say that I sort of enjoy the keyboards, though, and that in itself is somewhat remarkable. It’s not that Sabine Mair possesses any unique technical skill, and her keys are almost entirely atmospheric, but they frequently are the only interesting element in this otherwise drab music. Yes, she overuses her “strings” and “organ” patches for padding chords, but from time to time she busts out some neat little effect that really enlivens the tune, as with the spacey synth blooping that successfully distracts from the garden variety, power-ballad acoustic guitars in “Memories.” The keys are not enough to make Graveworm good, or at least not great, because really they’re not bad at all. It’s just that you’d probably have to be a very boring person to get excited by music that’s this middle-of-the-road.
— Friar Johnsen

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