Killing Innocence

rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Escorting The Soul
02. We Are The Resistance
03. Wicked Mind
04. If The World Shut Down
05. Dead Words
06. Where Agony Prevails
07. A Nameless Grave
08. End Of Time
09. Wrath Of Gods
10. In Honour Of The Fallen

Stalwarts of the Italian metal scene, GRAVEWORM forged their combination of death, black and gothic metal in the early '90s and have been a sporadic presence ever since. Perhaps best known for a run of albums through NUCLEAR BLAST that began with 2003's excellent "Engraved In Black" (notable for an inspired cover of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion"),  they have often threatened to deliver a classic, without ever coming particularly close. That aside, there are few bands operating at this point on the metal spectrum that do it with such style.

"Killing Innocence" rarely does anything unexpected, at least in terms of melodic and symphonic extreme metal, but the Italians have been doing this for so long that the fundamentals come naturally. Thanks in part to a genuinely monstrous production — easily the heaviest of GRAVEWORM's 30-year career — and some of the strongest songs they have ever penned, their tenth album feels more authoritative and distinctive than any of its predecessors.

"Escorting The Soul" may conform to the expected squall bombast that always ushers in records like these, but it's full of memorable riffs and lethal melodic hooks. "We Are The Resistance" is even better, as GRAVEWORM's death metal undercarriage gets a proper workout and vocalist Stefan Fiori leads the charge over a relentless rumble of melodic riffs. Having exhibited their symphonic credentials and mastery of mid-pace, these veterans demonstrate that they haven't lost the ability to shatter skulls on "Wicked Mind": a straight-ahead, old-school death metal banger with a shiny, blackened edge. Next, "If The World Shut Down" wrings classic metal harmonies from another solid bolt of deathly intent, while "Dead Words" is a spry, violent and unpredictable colossus, wrought from obsidian steel and eerie atmospherics.

With a second half that is roughly equivalent to the first, "Killing Innocence" never veers off course. But GRAVEWORM's dark hybrid oozes so much confidence and self-assurance that these myopically pitch-black anthems are hugely compelling. The closing "In Honour Of The Fallen" is the best of the lot. Hard as nails and gloriously downbeat, it's a sweeping, melodic death metal monolith, with all the power and catchiness of AMON AMARTH intertwined with the haunted macabre of prime CRADLE and DIMMU. It fades to bleary black with delicate acoustic guitars and the treacly hiss of synths: an elegant and classy end to what is an obvious artistic peak in GRAVEWORM's ongoing story.

Author: Dom Lawson
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