It’s been just over a year since death metal group Gruesome stormed to the forefront of the metal press with their debut LP, Savage Land, yet they’ve already readied another EP of ferocious throwback material. Everything about Dimensions of Horror feels like it could have been brought into existence circa 1987. From the Lovecraftian horror on the cover, designed by legendary artist Ed Repka, to the searing solos and phlegmatic vocals on songs with titles like “Forces of Darkness” and “Amputation,” each element on display fits so perfectly into the blueprint of classic Floridian death metal that you’d surely be forgiven for disbelieving that Dimensions of Horror is brand new material from some of today’s most prolific death metal musicians. Given that Gruesome’s seeds were planted on the Death to All tours by drummer Gus Rios and Exhumed frontman Matt Harvey, it makes perfect sense that this loving homage to Death is so appropriately executed.
Indeed, while the band’s songs are originals and not simply rehash of classic Death material, it’s clear that instead of drawing on more modern death metal, Gruesome is focused on breathing new life and aggression into a specific kind of timeless sound. In less than twenty minutes, Dimensions of Horror shows that there is still so much that can be done with these familiar ideas, especially on the menacing title track which closes out the EP’s brief run.
You can enjoy the whole thing now before its release on Relapse Records on May 20. Listen below, and read on for a few quick questions with vocalist Matt Harvey.
Noisey: It's been only a year since Savage Land dropped. With Dimensions of Horror already upon us and ready to go, it's clear you're keeping busy. Were these songs already written when the first record was completed?
Matt Harvey: Well, one thing about being a tribute band is that the roadmap is already there to follow. I'm always writing music, and after Savage Land kind of took off last year, it became clear that a follow up was going to be expected. When we started, there was no master plan, but we talked about where we could go from the first record. We decided that we wanted to rise to challenge we had set for ourselves to sort of work and progress through the Death discography. That being said, we felt that we didn't really do our Scream Bloody Gore with the first one. It was more like Leprosy, so we wanted to hit that era of Death before we got into stuff like Spiritual Healing and Human. So we kind of shoehorned this one in. I had a few riffs from a project that I started in about 2000 called Cadaverizer that never really went anywhere. It was heavily influenced by early Death, Massacre, and stuff like that. From there it wasn't too hard to get into the "Scream Bloody groove" during the writing process.
Gruesome's very existence is a love letter to the legacy of Death. Your songs tap into that familiar vein without being trite rehash. What do you draw upon to channel that sound without simply falling back into the Death to All format?
Well, it's all about tweaking things just enough to keep it familiar without it being a carbon copy. Gus is really good at changing up beats and stuff to keep things fresh sounding. It's tough not to veer into straight up plagiarism sometimes, because often the perfect riff has already been written, just by Chuck, so I have to figure out a different thing. Haha!
Legendary death metal artist Ed Repka designed the covers for both of your releases so far, giving a classic feeling to both of your releases. Will you continue to work with him as time goes on to pay tribute to the genre's legacy?
Ed Repka did the artwork for the first three Death albums, so he will do the artwork for our first three albums. He's a master and we're honored to work with him.
You'll be performing at Maryland Deathfest later this month. Aside from your own set, what are you most excited to see this year?
Exciter! I cannot wait to see them! Also Satan and Demolition Hammer should be great as well.
With such prolific output so far, what's next for Gruesome?
More gigs, more tunes and more Chuck.
Ben Handelman is screaming bloody gore on Twitter.