Grovel is a grotesque metal band. That was my first conclusion after an initial listen to their self-titled release, Grovel. Even the name is repulsive. I love it. My second thought was if I mixed death, doom, sludge, and stoner metal into a cauldron, let it boil, then turned it down to a simmer (the temperature is adjustable on this hypothetical cauldron) before removing said concoction to cool off, I’d take one whiff of my grand creation and call it Grovel. The name fits the aesthetic. We are off to a good start.
The music itself reminds me of a wild silverback gorilla. Sometimes lumbering around the troop with its massive girth, assessing the landscape, and other times standing erect and thudding its chest while baring its teeth to ward off an intruder. Rarely does this silverback break into a dead sprint, but it will charge if the situation calls for it.
“Sunken Pyre” starts off with thudding guitars and eerily sustained minor notes that may bring to mind that lumbering gorilla I previously mentioned. It picks up its pace about a minute and a half into the track before we are introduced to death metal vocal stylings and a memorable main riff. This leads us into “Snake Eater,” a song where the doomy and sludgy essences of the band take center stage. After the intro, the song speeds up before devolving into slow menacing doom until the songs conclusion. I can see the stoners vibing with this one.
“Undead Merchant,” which is a badass song title by the way, starts off with a tasty drum groove before the guitars join in on the fun. As far as Grovel is concerned, I’d consider this song one of the more upbeat numbers on the album. There is a hypnotic bounciness to this track and I found myself nodding my head subconsciously to the beat. Kudos to this song for ending on a gnarly riff too. “Barren” is the longest track on the album and reminds me of a death metal band playing in slow motion. That’s probably the result of combining death and doom for an intoxicating effect. The main riff in this one is a certified headbanger too, albeit a head bang in slow motion.
The penultimate track is “Eating Planets Whole” and it just so happens to be the shortest track on the album. Let’s consider this the track where a rival silverback tries to challenge our Grovel silverback (Grovelback?) and a fight for dominance ensues. My money is on the Grovel gorilla, but if the rival silverback takes over the troop I think Grovel is obligated to change their name to Grovelback or Grovelrilla.
Wherever “Ash Lake” is I am going to make a mental note to stay the fuck away from that place. Grovel creates a horrifyingly ominous soundscape here that really encapsulates all their influences into a potent blend. I believe they’ve created their own unique and wholly realized sound here. If someone asked me what Grovel sounds like, I’d show them this beautifully putrid hellscape of a song.
Grovel surprised me with an immensely impressive effort. There is enough originality here to keep a listener engaged, and the intense passion oozing out of this band is evident from opening to closing note. With Grovel being just six tracks in length, it doesn’t over stay its welcome either. I think there’s plenty of potential here for the band to explore moving forward. I’d like to see increased variety in the track-by-track dynamics and the vocal acrobatics to be kicked up a notch next time around. If you listen to nothing else, make time for “Ash Lake.” It is one of my favorite metal tracks released this year.
I have witnessed this gorilla walk around and beat its chest. I look forward to seeing it completely unhinged in the future while facing a horde of rival gorillas in a GorillaGeddon scenario, preferably.
Favorite Songs: “Sunken Pyre,” “Undead Merchant,” and “Ash Lake”
Release Date: 3/2/2020
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