Skullbearer/In Nighted Waters is a nine-song split LP released on vinyl from Doomentia Records featuring Gravehill and Mordbrand. Both bands play solid death metal with a rough vibe, and Gravehill, in particular, are local heroes here in the Los Angeles area.
Gravehill are up first and contribute four songs to the split, comprising one side of the LP. They have recently undergone some lineup changes with longtime vocalist Mike Abominator exiting, and with former bassist J.T. Corpse taking over at the microphone. Death metal journeyman Bodybag Bob Babcock takes over on bass.
Gravehill have been very consistent over the years with their last full-length album, 2014’s Death Curse, garnering excellent reviews. This split is the first release from Gravehill since their lineup changes, and it’s a solid slab of death metal.
Corpse’s vocals are a bit rougher and lower pitched than those of Abominator, meshing nicely with the loud, fast assault. A descendant of old bands such as Celtic Frost and early Sodom, Gravehill appear to be ready to take on their next challenge.
Mordbrand fill out the rest of the split on the other side of the vinyl with five songs. They are from Sweden, and that’s exactly what they sound like with a guitar tone evocative of the old Sunlight Studios sound. The HM-2 guitar pedal is getting a workout here, and the pace varies from a gallop to a blastbeat to back it all up. The vocals are a deep seated roar, and the bass tone is nicely audible in the background. There’s a good deal of variation in the songwriting, though, and Mordbrand tend to employ a rollicking gait that makes them somewhat unique.
Mordbrand are no strangers to the Swedish death metal with a lineup consisting of veterans of various acts, most notably God Macabre. Mordbrand’s stellar pedigree shows on this split LP, and fans of old school Swedish death metal will be on board.
(released November 18, 2016 on Doomentia Records)