Joplin, Missouri, I had never heard of this place. But I did have heard from Gravehuffer, the name of the band originating from this 50,000 souls counting town.
Gravehuffer started in 2008 as Krom, but in 2010 the name was changed to, the better sounding, Gravehuffer. In total the band has released a number of (split) EPs and, including this one, three LPs. The band is a bit averse to genres and makes a mix of sludge, crust doom, crust punk, death metal, thrash, doom, grindcore, hardcore, punk, hardcore and a little bit of disco. To add an extra dimension to their songs, three of the four bandmembers are also vocalists. As a result, almost every song is a surprise on NecroEclosion.
The opener, Custom of the Sea, is a welcome warming up for the rest of the album: guitars are tuned, drumskins stretched and three vocal cords are being lubricated. The album really kicks off with the second song Hellhound. This one takes you back to the hardcore from the late 80’s, early 90’s. When metal got the speed of punk and punk got the riffs from metal and vice versa. Think of bands like Cryptic Slaughter, Poison Idea, D.R.I, Stikky, Crumbsuckers and the raw grunts of Extreme Noise Terror. Hellhound starts with a fast riff in combination with a hit on the hi-hat: fast riff, drum: tap, fast riff, drum: tap tap tap. Hope you get the point. After this intro, two and a half minutes of raw, fast, thrash stomps in your eardrums. The third track, Sights of the Sky, starts with a spoken word sample (like many songs on this record) from former astronaut Buzz Aldrin (for those who don’t know him: he was the second man to set foot on the moon) Buzz counts down to zero and A Sight in the Sky starts, bursting with energy again. The track has some good thrashy metal riffs. Halfway
the song, no one less than Voivod’s Dan “Chewy” Mongrain, plays the guitar solo and the song continues its outstanding riffage.
My favorite track is Death Before Disco. It starts with a minute-long sample of You Should be Dancin’ by The Beegee’s, after which a two-minute grind explosion erupts. Not only the fast tempo, but especially the grunts that make the song good. It is very reminiscent of the early days of Extreme Noise Terror. Once one of my favorite bands: that probably explains why Death Before Disco is my favorite. It follows by Stingray which is more of a rougher bluff and the guitar solo is given here by Craig Hecht (unfortunately unknown to me). The last track on side A, Smaller than Death, tends towards the heavier sludge, but with considerable tempo changes. Another cameo awaits to provide the guitar solo. This time the honor goes to Annihilator’s Curran Murphy.
Gravehuffer has chosen the track Ghost Dance as the first single from the album. The song is about the oppression of the Native Americans. You can hear that in the music: it sounds like a rattling, almost hypnotic, chant, but then ‘made metal’. Repetitive heavy riffs and at the end, somewhere in the distance, you can hear the riffs changing in to a more black metal-esque one.
To avoid a long read, I flush to the closing track of NecroEclosion: Mad Wolf. The longest song on the record that once again shows the variety of Gravehuffer. A combination of styles is merged into one song. Think sludge, think metal, think hardcore.
Gravehuffer proves that a multitude of styles on a single record can be combined very well. In this case it adds an extra dimension especially with all the cameos playing along. But what the band especially shows is that they had a lot of fun recording NecroEclosion. And, not to forget, up till now I never heard of Joplin.