Words by Dave Cheney.
Fans of drop-tuned filth and turbo-charged blast beats rejoice! Spilling out of the underbelly of Melbourne’s extreme music scene come Gravemind with their debut full length, ‘Conduit’, a masterstroke of 11 tracks orbiting each other with the weight of planets inside a violent solar system. It’s an onslaught of unstoppable force that sees the group pushing their creative output like it’s the trials of Hercules, winding twisted guitar passages, brutally honest lyrics and hefty grooves into a hulking modern-metal Frankenstein. Interstellar, abstract and irresistibly heavy, ‘Conduit’ deep dives into the back of the human mind in a desperate search for healing and truth. Gravemind have delivered and the metal community is in for a very heavy treat.
Alright, class is in session and Gravemind have the chalkboard. ‘Conduit’ a mysterious slab of extreme metal, a real ‘more than the sum of its parts’ effort. The colossal obelisk on their album cover, the curious alien language scattered across the promotion, the unusual letterbox campaign they executed to promote new single Phantom Pain; the group really break out the creative toolbox to make the ‘art’ and the ‘heavy’ marry up without resorting to a shotgun wedding. The group channels a colossal sense of frantic motion throughout the record like five lads wrangling a runaway horse cart while only just managing to hold everything together. But that’s what makes is so damn thrilling, it could all fall apart at any moment but keeps you on a knife edge. Gravemind have stepped up their rhythm game on ‘Conduit’ big time and take pleasure in flexing their groove muscle, held together marvellously by the laser like precision of drummer Karl Steller whose polyrhythms and triplet kicks litter the record. Moments of rhythmic unity riddle the record as the band go full Votron, locking in to form one hulking super-instrument that hits like a judo chop to the larynx. What really sets Gravemind apart from the ever growing cohort of Aussie heavy hitters is their approach to genre-mashing. The lads aren’t just ‘tuning down for what’, there is some real melodic finesse on display here that shines through from record opener, The Effigy all the way through to closing track, The Entropy. It echoes a smorgasbord of influences, all that way from the chunky attack of After The Burial and Meshuggah through to the more melodically minded Northlane and (dare I say) Perth prog stalwarts Karnivool.
Gravemind go gung ho with their songwriting evolution and have taken long strides since their 2017 EP, ‘The Deathgate’. Without this growth, executing a record this complex would be like landing a jumbo jet with a broken landing gear; astonishingly, the whole cacophony is effortless. Lead single Volgin is a prime example, firing off with paint peeling assault of black-metal served with a side of tech-death and rhythmic stabs that land like Jason Vorhees’ machete. Fun fact: this monster cut was premiered on day time Triple J. Sorry Karen, picking the kids up from soccer practice will never be the same, will it? Singer Dylan Gilles-Parsons’ chainsaw vocals rip through the mix with an impressive arsenal of tones and grit that launch his nihilistic narrative of a past that refuses to die. “I’m drowning in air, burning alive, breathe in the ash, I’ll be reminded of what I am.” Again, every time his barks lock in with guitar slingers Damon Bredin, Michael Petritsch and Aden Young it’s blissful, ‘lose your fucking mind in the mosh’ inspiring unity. For a group with more strings than Hans Zimmer, they know how to make each element hold its own. Reading;Steiner is flooded with feedback swells, tapped melodies and soaring harmonies, every element managing to stay completely out of each other’s way. The boys aren’t shy with their modulation effects either; Vox Populi’s intro guitar lines are drenched with vibrato before catapulting into more jagged shredding. Speaking of these wonderful guitars, I can’t praise the harmonic complexity here enough, I am literally drained of praise. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET ME A PRAISE IV, STAT. Mid-record shredder Hard Rain hits so hard because Gravemind go above and beyond to drive forward through melodies and harmonies. The rising progressing that kicks it off, the heartbreaking descents; it’s painful and personal, a theme that’s expanded upon with various creative approaches to vocal production. Gilles-Parson isn’t afraid to push the envelope with spoken word passages and multi-stacked, processed harmonies that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Daft Punk floorfiller. It’s brave, risky and absolutely set this beast of a record apart.
‘Conduit’ is an astonishingly well realised debut that will stun you with its scale and burrow deep into your soul with it’s musicianship and message; I am tickled fucking pink to have the pleasure of being flung around like a pinball by the sheer mass of these cuts. Gravemind extend a comforting hand to the broken and discarded in a conscious effort to heal frustration and suffering. Fans of everything heavy, do yourself a favour. Buy this record, see Gravemind live and get fuckin’ healed.
Pre-order ‘Conduit’ via Gravemind’s website – https://www.gravemindofficial.com/