Gravespawn – the ultimate death metal monicker? – is a USA-based black metal solo act founded by jarhead Reaver while in the army in Oklahoma, USA and furthered while stationed in South Korea. That country is occupied by American forces, while North Korea is a dictatorship supported by China. The 2004 demo Thus Reigns The Imperial Order Of Tartaros was distributed by Nerbilous Productions of South Korea. The follow-up demo was Forged In The Malice Of Stygian Fire. The Praetorian Maleficus was a demo, which was distributed by Winter Thorn Records soon. This one lists several actual band members and is US-based. 2012 brings another demo, Woe To The Conquered. A couple of split releases lead to 2016’s Inexorable Grimness EP. Symbol Of Domination issued this as well. Reaver was fed up with the line-up changes and remade the act into a solo one again. The band’s full-length demo, Re-Forged In The Malice Of Stygian Fire, appeared trough the group’s imprint Vae Victus in late 2017. In fact, it featured older material. 2018 brought another demo, Sovereigns Of The Dark Fortress. Satanath issued the band’s debut full-length album in the spring of 2020. Reaver had taken over the bass as well.
GRAVESPAWN – THE ELDER DARKNESS – SATANATH
Gravespawn’s The Elder Darkness has a few things going for it, but a few major concerns push back the positive. At the end it’s about average and hence the 50 grade. One of the items that lose the man/band marks is the Slayer cover. More on that later.
Admittedly, this is not a problem specific to Gravespawn, as many newer bands and releases suffer the same fate nowadays, but The Elder Darkness is part of the pack and all the worse for it. The sound is weak, treble and tiny. The drums are inconsequential and barely heard. The toms might as well be some hissing next door. The curse of the good riffs buried under a thin sound persists. Then the band adds insult to injury by washing the songs in a wave of keyboards as if. Emperor, which influences Gravespawn, was a sucky wussy wimpy band and a disservice to all its followers.
Still, it is not all lost. The vocals are snarly and menacing. There are good riffs to be found on this and the tempo could get fast. This is all interspersed with doomy interludes all over. Kingdom Of Cruelty with its evil laughter, Barbarian Misanthropy with its olden Oriental melody and the extensive lyrics add some variety and curiosity to the heaviness. Unfortunately, the album ends with the offense of all offenses when a cover version of Slayer’s Die By The Sword is delivered with synthesizers, which is just the thing to make it soppy and limp. As if having yet another cover version was not stale enough Gravespawn deign it necessary to make Die By The Sword lackadaisical.
Gravespawn has it in its burial berth to deliver a good extreme metal album. The Elder Darkness takes too many self-inflicted wounds and is not it. – Ali “The Metallian”