Tasmania-turned-Melbourne deathcore outfit Gravemind have made quite the reputation for themselves as a technically proficient and sonically crushing heavy act. For anyone who’s given them more time past chuckling at their Halo-inspired name, they will notice that Gravemind’s discography and live presence vary in style and theme, while still being consistently devastating in all aspects. It’s fairly evident that the band, who entered the scene with 2015’s The Hateful One, have taken a very thematic and introspective approach to their music, with much of the lyrical content focusing on a broader story or concept, which when coupled with the sheer enormity of the band’s instrumentals, creates an atmosphere of someone who’s tripping on acid and watching some obscure Sci-Fi movie.
With the release of Gravemind’s debut LP, Conduit, out July 19 via Greyscale Records (our review here), we’re going to take a look at 7 of the band’s key songs and how they’ve transformed through their four year tenure as one of Australia’s most impressive extreme metal outfits…
#7 – ‘The Lowest Circle Of Hell’ (ft. CJ McMahon of Thy Art Is Murder)
Arguably the most well-known song off of Gravemind’s debut EP The Hateful One, ‘The Lowest Circle of Hell‘ delves into the narrative of Judas – The Hateful One – being driven into living in a world only caring for greed and solipsism, and the ensuing insanity he faces before his ultimate suicide. In this song and the EP as a whole, Gravemind took on a more technical approach to deathcore, not particularly atypical of the popular style at the time. A mix of techy riffs behind chugging guitar sections and pulverizing percussion is nothing really ‘new’ – but simply very well executed.
Vocalist Dylan Gillies-Parsons utilizes varying vocal styles to convey the different perspectives of Judas and Satan, which is something I admire with this band. The lyrics focus on Judas’ nihilism and acceptance, even embrace, of his place in Hell. Carving out the end of the song is a guest vocal feature from Thy Art Is Murder’s own CJ McMahon absolutely belting proclamations like “Welcome you serpent, to the lowest circle of Hell. You’ll wish you had never been born, a fitting cage for the lowest form. I am your true God” it fits the theme of Judas V Satan very nicely.
#6 – ‘Echo’ (ft. Aidan Ellaz of Dealer)
Serving as the second single from The Deathgate, ‘Echo‘ is a song that combines what should attract fans of old and new – narrative cohesiveness and stellar instrumentals that are reminiscent of the deathcore of yesteryear while maintaining the maturation the band is clearly heading towards, as evidenced in the preceding single, ‘Anaesthesia’.
The song structure of ‘Echo‘ is very well executed, an inviting intro that immediately connects to three minutes of rapid energy – it’s a constant barrage of narrative, chugging and technical guitar work (with slight throwbacks to The Hateful One and up and down vocal delivery that leaves it an extremely unpredictable song, which is no criticism. One of the best breakdowns in the band’s arsenal seats itself neatly at the end of the song (see 4:03) which marks a quick interchange initiated by Dealer vocalist Aidan Ellaz to set the stage for the band to showcase that they’re definitely not there to fuck around in one of the most punishing parts of the EP.
#5 – ‘Anaesthesia’
The first single from sophomore EP, The Deathgate, ‘Anaesthesia’ is an exciting progression from the bands earlier work. It sounds a hell of a lot’ cleaner’ and evolved, which while potentially cliché, holds very true here. It’s evident by the presentation of the song that the band had taken critiques on board and tried very fucking hard to improve, and they certainly did.
‘Anaesthesia’ is accompanied by a music video directed by the singer himself, and funnily enough, I remember post-release seeing Dylan continually post on Buy/Swap/Sell pages everywhere trying to sell parts of the set they used. It features a lone astronaut on a desert planet and the suffering he must endure to survive, and how he must go back to the start (The Death Gate) in order to succeed. It’s quite an intriguing story about existentialism with some thoughtful commentary laced throughout the lyrics; choice cuts like “Never-ending flow of information, we are the lost generation stuck here to feast on the safest line they offer, no wonder we feel nothing” and “You can strive for this moment as it slips through your fingers, sipping on the memory as it splinters, soured as it lingers, or you can propel yourself through the void” really provoke deep thought – a quality scarcely utilized within their genre.
#4 – ‘Scriptures of Hate’ (ft. Mark Poida of Aversions Crown)
Another deep cut from the first EP, ‘Scriptures Of Hate’ explores another avenue of the well-crafted story of the EP’s central character, Judas. The song reads as a story told directly by Judas, detailing his experience of Hell, a place he’s forced into for ten-million years because his God won’t accept him for who he is. Something quite enjoyable in this song is the very atmospheric tone it employs – and with a helping growl from Aversions Crown‘s Mark Poida, ‘Scriptures of Hate‘ sets itself up to be one of the most enjoyable from the EP.
I’m someone who doesn’t need to see nuance in music to enjoy it – I can listen to something that some may regard as ‘generic’ and still enjoy it. The Hateful One’s main downfall to me is that it just sounds way too similar too Thy Art Is Murder‘s ‘Hate‘ to really stand out. And while each song is individually good, I think the EP’s songs are too altogether similar to make a significant impact on the more technical minded fans – but for an EP that sold out two CD presses, a vinyl press and launched Gravemind on the path they’re on now, it’s undoubtedly a solid base.
#3 – ‘The Death of Teyolia’
Following the release of their first EP, Gravemind dropped a stand-alone single in 2016 entitled ‘The Death of Teyolia’ – which is, in my opinion, one of the best songs to showcase the band’s diversity in terms of intricate lyricism and musicality. The song centers around the central character, Teyolia, in an Aztec-style tribal world who has had her lovers killed by the Tribes of El Dorado, and how the Sky people fell to their power – it’s a tale of lust, greed, insanity and sacrifice. It just bears to drill in the point that Gravemind are one of the better concept bands around. Something that is exemplified within this song that has long impressed me about this band, is Dylan’s use of his vocal range to convey the dialogue of the characters within the song. Highs pitched screams portraying the feminine tribal warrior, Teyolia, and gut-wrenching gutturals displaying the Gods she is so desperately begging for her lover’s soul back.
What more, there is nothing lost in this in a live setting – Dylan can switch between the two drastically different tones without batting an eye, something that if not done well would pretty much ruin the song’s impact. Musically, the song doesn’t differ greatly from The Hateful One – one could be forgiven for thinking it was a B-side, and that’s no real criticism. Coupled with a comic book style lyric video, courtesy of Scott Rudd, and the release of a 7” vinyl with a physical comic book fleshing out the story of Teyolia, this was a very good release, and one of my favorite yet.
#2 – ‘Volgin’
Personally, this has to be one of my favourite songs Gravemind has ever released. It’s a solid direction change for the band – especially when compared to their earlier songs, but even when you listen to their most recent track before, ‘Lifelike’. It’s fast, heavy, technical and impactful – four words synonymous with the band itself. The music video (which I had the pleasure of making a very brief cameo in) focuses on a mental patient who sees a mysterious pillar in the sky, and when trying to show it to other patients and staff, he gets sedated and subject to electro-shock therapy. After he ‘escapes’ into an outside field, he sees the pillar is no longer there. Next scene we see the patient calmly set himself alight, conveniently tied with the violent vocal exclamation of “You will find me burning”
Musically, I believe this is where the band is at its most refined. All components of this song are prominent in the mix (courtesy of Australian metal stalwart, Lance Prenc) – if you listen closely, the bass, guitar, drums and vocals are all easily recognizable and they mesh absolutely perfectly. This song, currently sitting at over 31,000 views on YouTube set a very high precedent for what’s to come on Conduit.
and the winner is…
#1 – ‘Lifelike’
In April 2018, Gravemind unleashed probably their most experimental sound-direction twist onto their fans, and it’s fair to say that it went over insanely well. Currently sitting at 66k YouTube views, 400k Spotify streams and a completely sold out vinyl press (including a fucking sick test press bundle) you could say fans lapped it up. It was indeed a change from The Deathgate, and considering the primary songwriter Damon Bredin wrote the song with no demos going in, it’s bloody impressive. ‘Lifelike’ is all things Gravemind – heavy, technical and mosh-worthy but takes an interesting turn in that it drops the metaphors and symbolism the band is known for and is a lot more candid in intent. ‘Lifelike’ is yet another lyrically intricate brainchild of Gillies-Parsons – questioning the unrequested experience of life and the burden of existence. Expounding upon living the same way every day only to continually suffer and eventually be consumed by the persistent encroach of death, this was the most mature song Gravemind had thus far released, especially once compared to tales of revenge, lust and hatred of a God.
Cementing its spot as a set closer, ‘Lifelike’ is an excellent live addition. With guitarist Michael Petrisch stepping in on backup vocals, it gives Gillies-Parsons more room to fully convey the more harmonic lines; e.g. “The truth is I’m dying on my own” which is a mesmerizing duet, given the genre and its aptitude for the lack of it.
TL:DR – Gravemind are just fucking great. Listen to them.
Words Sweated by Darcy Lock @DarcyDTD
Revisit Gravemind frontman Dylan Gillies-Parsons co-hosting our Wall of Sound: Up Against the Wall podcast chatting all things Conduit, fan appreciation and video game influences right here
Pre-Order the new masterpiece right here
Gravemind – Conduit tracklisting
1. THE EFFIGY
4. VOX POPULI
5. HARD RAIN
6. PHANTOM PAIN
8. ZERO-POINT ENERGY
11. THE ENTROPY