London’s GraViL are brutal and technically efficient purveyors of melodic death metal, showcased in fine form with their first full length album Thoughts of a Rising Sun. These guys remind me a lot of hearing Dead Cowboy’s Sluts last year, in such that they’ve opened my ears to a ferocity that I always thought was something I never really enjoyed.
They have some wonderful little nuances spread throughout the assault to your senses across this album too. Be it the acoustically light and airy intro before Structurally Unsound rips you to pieces while still managing to include a beautifully mellow solo section, or the electronica-induced melody introducing first single Enemy Within. It’s little things like this in the album that make these songs stick in your head. Beyond Reprieve has a great grind to it, mixed in with staccato hail fire and blisteringly melodic guitar elements. The Wanderer almost takes us into metalcore territory with its mix of deathly growls, sweeping arpeggios and rhythmic guitar harmonies.
There are a few things though that feel like they need a bit of work. When the growls give way to the cleaner and more melodic vocals there’s a lot of power lost and at times it can feel a little bit jarring, the solos at times as well feel a little bit lost in the mix and don’t really cut through. These things are easily resolved as a band grows though and are more technical than anything else.
GraVil do sound at their best when they maintain the aggression and Something Worth Chasing has a pounding and stomping pace that reinforces this while adding another layer to their musicianship with some great piano work interspersed throughout as it leads into Interlude; a brief track reminiscent of Evanesence that I half expected Amy Lee to pop up on.
It also leads us perfectly into the second half of the album and title track, Thoughts of a Rising Sun, that manages to feel rather epic in under four minutes. The Struggle brings us back full circle to the aggressive attack heard at the start of the album, but its chorus for want of a better word feels ever so cheesy. It’s a little bit twee power rock if that makes any sense. Thankfully Through the Eyes of Spartans blows this away in an instant. Evilly brutal or brutally evil, either way it feels like you’re being repeatedly hit with a sledgehammer.
While the title track felt epic, Bottle of Shadows definitely is epic. From the middle eastern notes of its intro and onwards into the track you feel GraVil have put a little bit of everything into this one and it comes across wonderfully as it travels effortlessly between thumping riffs, electronic melodies, haunting solos and all. It’s positively prog-like in its approach and reminds me of a heavied up Dream Theater.
Final track March of the Titans was originally released back in 2010 as a single from their Age of Corruption EP and makes it’s return along with Cradle of Filth’s James McIlroy to round the album off in fine style.
Yes, there are some rough edges here, but not so many to detract from what has to be considered a brutally elegant first full length album from GraVil.
Thoughts of a Rising Sun is available now through Ditto Music
1. Structurally Unsound
2. Enemy Within
3. Beyond Reprieve
4. The Wanderer
5. Something Worth Chasing
7. Thoughts of a Rising Sun
8. The Struggle
9. Through the Eyes of Spartans
10. Bottle of Shadows
11. March of The Titans
Grant Stacey – Vocals
Andy Slade – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Tony Dando – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Sparx – Bass and Backing Vocals
Conor Harkness – Drums