Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Gravespawn is a three-piece black metal band with just a handful of recordings to their name prior to this EP, the brilliantly-titled ‘Inexorable grimness’. It seems somewhat incongruous that the blazing sun of LA should be the spawning ground for a new darkness and yet the last decade has seen a number of bands emerge from the region’s golden beaches. It’s enough to make you think there’s something in the water. Formed as a solo project by Reaver, the band has hardly been prolific, clearly focusing on quality over quantity, and that, surely, is no bad thing in a period where to remain silent for any length of time is to risk being forgotten with the concomitant increase in substandard releases reaching an all-time high.
Despite being classed as an EP with its five tracks, ‘Inexorable grimness’ still manages to clock in at an impressive 32 minutes (longer than ‘Reign in blood’) thanks to the expanded run-time of the tracks on offer. The EP opens with ‘Old Dragon’s domain’, a sombre synth line providing a filmic opening that befits the fantasy-historical lyrics of the track. Summoning a Tolkenian atmosphere, ‘old dragon’s domain’ draws on the ravaged guitars of Darkthrone and Burzum, whilst Reaver’s mono-tone scream is used rhythmically to punctuate the fire and fury of the track. Next up is ‘oath of the annihilator’ which draws on vintage Darkthrone with its intoned clean vocals and white-hot guitars. Eerie synth once finds its way into the track emphasizing the epic and building an atmosphere around the storied lyrics. The imperial riffs of ‘thy gates ablaze’ are no less impressive, conjuring images of long-decayed halls and rusting armour in a lengthy piece that offers up something new every time you listen. A full-blooded assault on the senses, ‘between the devouring monstrosities’ is every bit as brutal as its title, although it too heads into more elegiac territory, the music invoking the epic poetry of Beowulf in its final throes. The EP concludes with ‘scribes of forsaken lore’, a final trip into lands long abandoned by humans in their quest for never-ending modernity. With raging guitars overlaid with more nuanced, clean elements, it’s a mesmerising finale and one that leaves you very much wanting more.
Gravespawn may hail from LA, but their music comes from a different realm altogether. Fans of Stephen King and Peter Straub’s epic novel ‘The Talisman’ will find themselves daydreaming of the way that the main character, Jack, slips from the present day into an alternate, medieval realm and this is a perfect EP to lose yourself in for half an hour at a time. Dim the lights, let the red wine flow and indulge in this dark, epic masterpiece. 9