Pissgrave - Posthumous Humiliation
Profound Lore Records
Death Metal
9 songs (43:26)
Release year: 2019
Profound Lore Records
Reviewed by Goat

Extreme music has always wrestled with extreme imagery, from the decapitated heads of Brujeria and early Carcass' corpse collages, to Cannibal Corpse's gristlier moments and some of the more depraved and disgusting goregrind bands. It's quite hard to defend this gleeful intent to shock to those unused to (death) metal culture and yet we all have done it at some time or other. So when you're faced with something you consider quite genuinely horrifying and revolting, like the actual artwork of Philadelphia's own Pissgrave's second album here, it's suddenly a look at the other side of the argument. As you may have guessed from their name, Pissgrave are no strangers to reactions like this and their debut album Suicide Euphoria was disgusting enough with its bathtub of brown bony gloop. Yet Posthumous Humiliation actually lives up to its title by putting what can only be described as a destroyed face on the cover, mocking this deceased unfortunate with insult atop very literal injury.

The music inside is just as ugly, a raw, visceral blast of grind/death metal putridity spiritually more akin to early Carcass' bloated corpses than smoothly sterile modern tech-death. It's rotten and as disgusting as the artwork, opener Euthanasia a murky torrent of sewage permanently spewing into your ears, yet with discernable riffs amidst the racket like Incantation several months after they died in a freak boating accident. The vocals are probably the most horrific element, breathy but inhuman grunts and muffled shrieks, as though dual guitarist/vocalists Demian Fenton and Tim Mellon were both the models for the cover art. And the drums are far from untechnical, but still somehow chaotic and terrifying, a near-constant, relentless gallop behind the rest of the instruments. Several songs even manage to start in more or less the same way, Canticle of Ripping Flesh seeming less like a new song so much as a second chapter of the same awful news report.

Yet Posthumous Humiliation is, once you're used to the unpleasantness, a genuinely good death metal album. Funeral Inversion especially is a killer song, a slight switch towards blackened riffing having huge atmospheric impact as the battery increases in speed and intensity, like Soulside Journey-era Darkthrone with a massive dose of listener-unfriendliness and even hatred as those animalistic vocals rant atop the guitars. Catacombs of Putrid Chambers is possibly even better, that opening riff closer to the likes of Portal or other Profound Lore fellow-travellers than your usual death metal monsters, even as the ensuing deceptively primitive bludgeoning exercises those neck muscles. There's a level of brutal heaviness here akin to the 90s heyday that makes the likes of the title track truly savage, Emaciated's endless pounding as efficient and effective, while Rusted Wind slows things down a little and even allows for some twisted melody.

Listening to this band shows their strengths far better than just looking at them. There are a lot of debates to be had about Pissgrave and their edgier-than-thou artwork (let alone band name!) but it's something of a distraction really, like a schoolmate who once accidentally browsed early 4chan and is incapable of having a conversation without mentioning it. The music is disgusting enough without it, hence the decision not to reproduce it at the head of this review (even without more practical concerns like those who visit this site at work or with family nearby expecting to find reviews of metal rather than Liveleak gore!) Good on the band for knowing how to sell themselves and create controversy to the point where the usual suspects at Pitchfork consider this worthy of inclusion with (rather suspect) comparisons to the late free jazz auteur Cecil Taylor but their music is compelling enough that it really doesn't need mashed faces on the artwork to sell itself. Some of us like music for its escapist values but there is a pressing argument for it to reflect society at its darkest, and so even though we may not want to it's hard to escape the fact that we're all one tumble down a stairwell away from crushed spines, or one wrong stroll down a street away from being stabbed by a maniac and if you like to spend your time thinking about such things Pissgrave are the perfect musical accompaniment, suggesting not just that dismemberment awaits around every corner but that someone will be there to laugh at you afterwards as well. Have a great week!

Killing Songs :
Funeral Inversion, Catacombs of Putrid Chambers, Emaciated
Goat quoted 80 / 100
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