2023 marks the twenty fifth anniversary of Brazilian black/death metal band Grave Desecrator, and what better way to celebrate that then with a new full length? Like many of their peers, Grave Desecrator pulls heavily from the more extreme roots of black, death, and thrash, with their 2008 debut Signs of Doom offering a potent take that felt somewhere between Blasphemy, Beherit, and Sarcófago. In the years since the group has tweaked their formula, sometimes going for a bit more of thrash or death metal, but always staying true to their core approach. This year’s Immunidissime Spiritus refines the songwriting to the most razor-sharp level yet, reducing some of the filler and bloat in favor of furious riffs and solos that rarely let up. There’s also a bit more variety than you might initially expect, making this a strong showing that has some genuine staying power.
There are some deviations from what Grave Desecrator has done before, but when it comes down to it Immunidissime Spiritus is still going for the same blend of faster riffs and solos alongside some slower passages where the dark, tense atmosphere builds. Rather than kicking things off with a moodier intro, “Necromantical Hex” launches right into the attack and showcases the precise blasting and nuanced approach the group brings to the genre. It speeds forward like a train on fire for just under five minutes, but there’s a sense of controlled chaos to the performance and Grave Desecrator adds in some details like war metal’s hallmark slide picks as well as some additional noise that makes the track sound massive. The album continues this blend of fast and furious riffing with some slower, mid-tempo death metal as you make your way through, but there’s enough variation between the tracks to tell most of them apart. What makes a significant difference compared to 2016’s Dust to Lust is the more concise run time, as the slow parts don’t feel nearly as dragged out and there aren’t as many interludes that drag things down. Instead, the emphasis is on riff after riff alongside some of the better solos I’ve heard in black/death metal in recent memory. Tracks like “Finis Hominis” and “Occult Bewitchment” are effective in their build-ups from mid-tempo passages that have slight hints of melody into all-out ragers, and the blackened take on G.G. Allin’s Fuck the Dead also serves as a late album highlight. Admittedly the one song where this isn’t the case is “Fogo fátuo”, which interrupts its instrumentation a little after the halfway point for some ritualistic chanting. This isn’t bad by itself, but it feels choppy and disrupts the flow too much, making it seem like it would’ve been more effective if placed elsewhere.
Butcherazor is the only original member left in the band at this point, but if you’ve listened from Signs of Doom onwards his raspier scream/growl will instantly sound familiar. The vocals are well balanced with the instrumentals on Immunidissime Spiritus, making it so that the nuances of Butcherazor’s performance break through without overpowering the rest of the band. Some of the shorter tracks demonstrate the extremity he can offer, as the likes of “Miasma” and “Rapists from the Cross” find him starting off at a raw and powerful scream that breaks into a huge, echoed pitch. As mentioned earlier, you do get some chanting on “Fogo fátuo” and a few other places, which helps to break things up even if the placement doesn’t always seem perfect. Overall, the vocals are as sharp and in your face as ever and this works to Grave Desecrator’s advantage.
Insult and Dust to Lust had their moments, but I’ve always found Signs of Doom to be the most consistent album from Grave Desecrator’s full-length catalog. Immunidissime Spiritus is able to match that with strong production values and more concise songwriting that makes the riffs and solos hit as hard as possible without feeling overstretched. It also adds a bit more variation to the band’s formula that makes some of the individual tracks stand out more than before, giving this album the type of substance your average black/death effort lacks. Twenty five years in, this group seems stronger than ever. Immunidissime Spiritus is available from Grave Desecrator’s own label Caverna de Sangue Productions as well as a whole slew of others depending on your region (see below for breakdown).
Europe/USA/Asia: From Deepest Records (CD - Bandcamp)
Brazil: Misanthropic Recs (CD), Black Hearts Records (CD), and Xaninho Discos (CD)
Chile: Morbid Ways To Die (Cassette)
Colombia: Tanatofobia Prods. (CD + T-shirt)
Peru: Goat Eyaculation Records (Cassette)
-Review by Chris Dahlberg