Grave Infestation, “Persecution of the Living”
By Sarah Kitteringham · June 10, 2022 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

There’s a compelling argument that Vancouver is host to Canada’s most creative and expansive death metal scene. Dungeon Serpent, Reversed, and Thebes are the most recent groups sourced from that wellspring, adding to an impressive lineage that stretches back decades. Quality, not quantity, is critical; Vancouver’s death metal bands consistently recreate and reimagine classic death metal in exciting new ways.

Enter drummer AS and vocalist/guitarist GC. Both are members of mutating death/black/crust outfit AHNA, chaotic black/death project Ceremonial Bloodbath, and death metal quarter Encoffinate; drummer AS is also of celebrated death doomsayers Temple of Abandonment. All of the aforementioned are celebrated for their anarchic sensibilities and apocalyptic sound. In Grave Infestation, AS provides the rhythmic backdrop, and GC provides the dry howls and squealing solos for a crushing display of death metal that occasionally veers into grindcore and crust. Bassist TS and second guitarist BC join them to strong impact.

Persecution of the Living is several years in the making, following the band’s promising demos, Infesticide and Infestation of Rotting Death. On their full-length debut for Invictus Productions, increased range and nuance combined with dry production excellently befits the melee within. “The Conquest of Pestilence” kicks things off aggressively with an expansive soundscape dominated by dread-laden keys and floating solos. The intro of “Plague of Crypts” is particularly jarring thanks to its abundance of unsettling high, drawn-out notes that detonate incessantly. Later on, the interplay between rhythm and lead on “Human Jigsaw Puzzle” proves downright catchy, eventually descending into a jarring cacophony of soloing.

There are elements of early Finnish and Swedish death metal (in particular Nihilist, Abhorrence, Entombed, and Dismember) throughout Persecution of the Living, though they are reimagined in a manner simultaneously both discerning and unfamiliar. The result is an album besieged by claustrophobia, sonically and thematically: an aural reflection of a world beset by inequity, careening into oblivion.

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