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Buzz started circulating this past summer about new supergroup Gruesome when it was announced that they’d been signed to Relapse Records, and the announcement of an April 21st release for their debut album, Savage Land, has death metal fans chomping at the bit. A supergroup of sorts with members from different corners of death metal, Gruesome is a Death tribute band. The idea came from Matt Harvey and Gus Rios when they were part of the Death To All tour, Harvey fronting the homage and Rios performing “Baptized in Blood.” The two tossed around the idea of forming a DTA to focus solely on the first half of Death’s work, but ultimately went for what started out as a joke: to instead write their own music in that vein.

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So, tribute band, yes, but cover band, no. Gruesome is the coming together of four musicians who already have solid reputations of their own, creating music derived from their shared love of Chuck Schuldiner’s early work, but spun into something that is fresh and exciting. They’ll hook fans with the Death reference and their own fame from their other bands, but they’ll hold them with what they’re writing and playing now. The horror themes and the power to somehow convey gore through sound that made Death stand out are alive and well in Gruesome. But Gruesome has an intensity all their own, a speed and guttural grime that could only exist in this way from this combination of musicians.

Matt Harvey, Vocals and Guitar

Previous releases with Exhumed:

Necocracy, 2013
All Guts, No Glory, 2011
Garbage Days Regurgitated, 2005
Anatomy is Destiny, 2003
Slaughercult, 2000
Gore Metal, 1998

As the vocalist for Exhumed, Harvey has a 20-year-and-change history steeped in gore metal. Inspired by the music of bands like Carcass, Exhumed kept morbid gross-out themes at the center of its aggression - “Grotesque Putrefied Brains” and “Cadaveric Splatter Platter” among the many stars of their cannibalistic menu. From a sound perspective, Harvey has a talent many metal singers would kill for: he can spin an earwormy melody while sounding both homicidal and tortured. His growling scream has the vocal range of clean singing but never misses an opportunity to pack a haunting dose of growling, rasping, wailing agony and rage. His vocal power was made for gore metal.

Daniel Gonzalez, Guitar

Previous releases with Possessed:

None.

Previous releases with Occisas:

Fuck Disease, 2005

In addition to his work with Possessed, Gruesome’s guitarist Daniel Gonzalez plays every instrument except the drums in Occisas, and was a live member of Nailshitter. He might not be an original member of Possessed, but he’s been an integral part of upholding their legacy since 2011. Possessed’s reputation as one of the founding bands in death metal isn’t something you can trust just any guitarist with. The San Francisco band, with a history extending back to 1982, set the bar in unleashing Satanic themes, gore and violent death upon listeners, and Gonzalez plays into that today with his expert ear and talent to achieve Possessed’s signature intricate riffs delivered at warped speeds. There’s a certain demonic twist to his breakneck picking patterns, and that twist is in line with the carnage-driven effect Gruesome sets out to have.

Robin Mazen, Bass

Previous releases with Derkéta:

In Death We Meet, 2012

Bassist Robin Mazen has been the bassist in Derkéta since 2006; the respected all-female death metal band formed in 1988 in Pittsburgh. Derkéta’s entire ethos is built on maintaining death metal’s truest, most original form: no bells and whistles, no indulging of fads. The music is raw and unapologetic, just good old fashioned death metal with an unrelentingly slowed-down, purposeful pace, thunderous guitars and a lo-fi fuzzy finish. Mazen carries the morbidly plodding effect with her bass, a sense of gloomy-meets-violent rhythm she’ll bring to Gruesome.

Gus Rios, Drums

Previous Releases with Malevolent Creation:

Invidious Dominion, 2010

Previous Releases with Evil Amidst:

Lords of the Nine, 2010

Previous Releases with Upon Infliction:

Inhuman...In Human, 2010
To Escape is to Suffer, 2006

Previous Releases with Resurrection:

Mistaken for Dead, 2008

Previous Releases with Sickness:

Ornaments of Mutilation, 1995

Drummer Gus Rios is one of those hard-working, talented guys in metal that would probably be more of a behind-the-scenes kind of guy if Malevolent Creation didn’t have such an absurd reputation for things that come out of their mouths in interviews and announcements. Rios has drummed with several bands, like Sickness and Resurrection, and became known as Malevolent’s drummer from 2008 to 2014. The band’s publicized, unceremonious ousting of Rios left his schedule open for a project like Gruesome. Their loss, our gain. Listening to Malevolent Creation play is far superior to listening to them talk, and they’ve made an important impact on death metal since forming almost 30 years ago. Their music is a mean, thrashy, heavy beatdown, and during his time with them, Rios pushed that assault forward with sickeningly fast and hard drums. He clearly knows how to both support and drive a death metal sound that is old-school yet evolving, so he seems like a no-brainer for Gruesome.

Savage Land is out today via Relapse. Follow Gruesome on Facebook.

—Courtney Iseman

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