The agonizing wait has come to an end and the Philadelphia death metal sadists return with an album that is downright vile and beyond sinister.
Heavy metal has always been about pushing the limits. In the 70's, BLACK SABBATH pushed all kinds of buttons with the cacophony they were creating. People responded with either two outcomes: sheer terror or outright sycophantic worship. Fast forward nearly a decade and grindcore and death metal have shed the near comedic redundancy of thrash metal for a sound that was darker, more evil, and bound to get everyone talking. DEATH simply did it by delivering the goods time and time again, INCANTATION did it by creating some of the most blasphemous music in history up until that point and CARCASS straight up had cadaver collages on their first two records, which instantly shot the band into the collective consciousness of everyone involved in guitar oriented heavy music. However, as good as initial shock value is, it can initially wear off. SABBATH eventually succumbed to the dreaded bloat curse, DEATH grew incredibly progressive and introspective, INCANTATION lost their edge at a certain point and CARCASS moved into more melodic territory. Who would be the modern standard bearers for the visual and auditory V2 for metal in the 21st century? Enter PISSGRAVE.
Initially bursting onto the scene in 2014 with a self titled demo, Philadelphia's PISSGRAVE quickly became an instant magnet for controversy given the cover image of a man who had committed suicide and his decomposing body dripping into a bathtub. This wasn't an illustration, rather an actual live image that was meant to garner double takes. The tunes on display were unlike anything popular at the time, consisting of a combination of bestial black metal pioneered by Ross Bay Cult legends BLASPHEMY and death metal bands such as DEICIDE, REVENGE and INFESTER. The aural assault they brought on the demo and the debut full length Suicide Euphoria (2015) is an uncompromising skullfucking of malevolent proportions.
After establishing themselves with two celebrated releases and a live show that leaves anyone stunned, PISSGRAVE kept quite before they were announced to play the comeback of Killtown Deathfest in Copenhagen in September of 2018. During this performance, the band debuted a new track that had many a concertgoer foaming at the mouth. "New Pissgrave?! WHEN?!?!" was the symbiotic thought of all who attended Killtown. The band and their label, Profound Lore, kept mum about the situation, but the silence could any last for so long. In early January, Profound Lore announced that the wait was finally over and the world got their first glimpse of Posthumous Humiliation. As expected, the band were able to find a photo more loathsome and horrific than the previous record with the photo being that of a human face obliterated beyond any earthly recognition. Cover art aside, the debut track Euthanasia was quickly lapped up by everyone ready for a sick and twisted ride. Euthanasia, along with the rest of PH, is a repugnant roller coaster ride into a syringe and mucus filled dumpster world filled with all manner of depraved atrocities. You may want to grab that hazmat suit before diving into this shit because you'll definitely need it.
As soon as the album begins, you feel as if you are being taken right into one of the rooms in the abandoned building throughout Eli Roth's Hostel. Tim Mellon barks some of the most vile and gruesome vocals in death metal of recent memory. He and fellow guitarist Demian Fenton (Serpent Throne, ex-Otesanek) trade off licks that would've made 1989 Bill Steer queasy. The tremolo picked guitar passages found throughout recall the six string work of BLASPHEMY's Caller of the Storms and The Traditional Sodomizer of the Goddess of Perversity coupled with the brutal in your face attack of a band like Australia's INCINERATED or Mexico's DISGORGE. And much like DISGORGE, who's second album Forensick featured some of the most repulsive artwork known to man, PISSGRAVE know that they have to back up the image they present with a sound that is just as resolute and determined. Drummer Matt Mellon, who just so happens to be the brother of Tim, gives a drumming performance that is energetic and vigorous from open to close.
Some may come into this with the preconception or judgement of this being some schlocky goregrind record that tries to sound highbrow and edgy. PISSGRAVE are not out to make some kind of informed gesture. They will take said preconceptions and shove them down your throat while torturing you through amplified guitar, guttural vocals and a rhythm section that rumbles the insides. As much as the internet loves to talk up MORTICIAN nowadays, there is an honest successor to that brand of deathgrind, that being PISSGRAVE. Whereas MORTICIAN seem content with playing psycho doctor, PISSGRAVE are the bestial, blood soaked Dr. Mengele that Rahmer could only dream of.
Funereal Inversion and Catacombs of Putrid Chambers offer dark glimpses into the mind of a person that has lost their connection to sanity, ready to end life. All of these emotions are stirred through an engaging and direct sound mix by Arthur Rizk, who also worked on Suicide Euphoria, It positions PISSGRAVE at the crossroads of sounding necro enough to be too clean but clean enough to not sound overly necro.
In essence, you will not find a more punishing album than Posthumous Humiliation in 2019. PISSGRAVE succeed at putting together a composition as repulsive as the cover photo suggests through disgusting and sadistic measures one should embrace for themselves. The unrelenting speed and malicious musicianship coupled with the vile vocal work of Tim Mellon makes for a blood gushing deathgrind experience unlike no other. PISSGRAVE will clutch your still beating heart, stare with a nihilistic grin, and let out an evil cackling from their goresoaked throats. Consider all expectations shattered.
Overall score: 10/10
FFO: Deicide, Blasphemy, Revenge, Infester, Disgorge, Incinerated, Conqueror
Posthumous Humiliation will release on March 1st, 2019. Pre-order your copy of this putrid masterpiece at Profound Lore Records.