Gruesome’s “Savage Land” was an unashamedly blatant yet largely enjoyable homage to Death’s seminal “Leprosy”, blurring the line between original band and tribute act.
A quick look at the cover of “Twisted Prayers” suggests “Spiritual Healing” will be the focus of their latest offering at the altar of Chuck.
So opening track ‘Inhumane’ immediately brings ‘Living Monstrosity’ to mind, as one might expect.
The “Spiritual Healing” opener provides most of the template for what is a reasonable start, albeit with a distracting diversion through a section of ‘See Through Dreams’.
It’s not subtle. It’s almost note for note.
At the two minute mark we’re back into the middle-section of “Living Monstrosity” and, again, it’s a little too close to the source material for comfort.
Guess The Riff
‘A Waste of Life’ starts with something remarkably similar to ‘Within The Mind’ and, yes, it’s another round of guessing the source of the riffs which appear within the song.
Where the first album made knowing suggestions with an eyebrow raised, this one is screaming in your face.
The ballsy humour of the debut appears lost in a sea of what is either a lack of imagination or sheer laziness.
The famousy sterile sound they have tried to mimic for this record exposes the shortcomings in their craft, where the exuberance of a raw mix possibly made their debut more listenable.
Much as Metallica copied and pasted sections of music together and called them songs on their wretched “St. Anger”, it’s not hard to visualise Gruesome cobbling together parts of Death songs and reassembling to form the bulk of this album.
As if to reinforce that notion, a section of ‘Defensive Personalities’ follows before ‘A Waste of Life’ returns to its original source material. It’s disturbing.
Every too-close-to-the-bone riff takes you out of their song and into one of Schuldiner’s. Maybe that’s the point but it’s hard work to listen to without bowing to the impulse to turn it off and actually put on some Death.
The jarring nature of being dragged from one song to another continues in varying degrees as the album progresses.
‘Fatal Illusions’ brings together the start of “Living Monstrosity’ with sections of ‘Low Life’, ‘Crusade of Brutality’ pairs the iconic tapping intro of ‘Spiritual Healing’ with the verses of ‘Leprosy’. Not even a solo by James Murphy can bring focus to what is a jumble of riffs looking for a song.
Lyrically, the whole album is entirely disposable.
They’ve not attempted anything other than loosely rewriting the same kind of topics Chuck was at the start of the 90’s, but without any kind of insight.
The vocals are delivered in apt fashion when the lyrics have nothing to say. It sounds like Harvey was trying so hard to stay in character that any passion or personality was squeezed to the point of non-existence.
Murphy also appears in ‘At Death’s Door’ which starts with the slightly mutilated intro of ‘Killing Spree’. As ever, sections of different Death songs make brief appearances, ensuring the listener spends more time exercising their brain trying to remember where it came from than actually listening to the song.
Lack Of Comprehension
Where “Spiritual Healing” was the sound of an artist gathering speed and pushing himself in new directions, “Twisted Prayers” is the sound of a band applying the brakes.
The juxtaposition between their clear ability as players while trying to emulate the raw simplicity of early Death just doesn’t work this time around.
It’s lacking the energy and bare-faced cheek of their debut while also missing the aggression and intellect of Schuldiner’s transitional masterpiece which it draws such influence from. What’s left feels hollow and quite dull.
After multiple listens I still can’t recall a single riff, at least not one of theirs.
1.9 / 5 – Justin Maloney ::: 28/05/18