Cave Grave - Unfurling Putridity (Hand of Death)

For me, deathgrind is all about the verbs. Perhaps the most athletic of death metal’s many mongrel children, it hits hardest when it barrels forward with the deft heft of a rugby player, sweeping, shoving, and pummeling listeners off balance. The bulkier, Bolt Thrower-adjacent style offered here by Cave Grave is easy enough to replicate, but worthwhile only when it’s wrought with force and purpose. For every hit like this 17-minute sprint, Unfurling Putridity, there are twenty misses recycling riffs as predictably as they do fetid two-tone covers. Though, admittedly, it would be dumb not to recognize the prevalent (and arguably justified) ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ ethos motivating these conventional commitments, let us remember that word-class athletes run through the same warm ups that we mortals do, only with enough verve to enhance the routine into something else entirely. Like a basketball player casually dunking the ball through the hoop, or a torpedo swimmer gyrating for a fluid flip turn, Cave Grave make it seem like they’re playing a different game at the Bandcamp YMCA. The opening track surges straight out the gate with the bristling chug of an armored train, fast enough to burn through two monstrous riffs in the first twenty seconds. Every song benefits from this unpredictable bounce, and the best moments arrive when Cave Grave flash a turn so fast, that the pacy and muscular elements seem to intermingle. The bass drops and cymbal flourishes on “Purulent Rain,” “Riddled Dementia,” and “Only the Infinite Remains” make the band sound like it’s thudding, thrashing, and whirring all at once. In my short career scouting deathgrind talent, that’s the quality that tipped me off to cult gems from recent, gorier acts like Pharmacist, Necroveg, and Sulfuric Cautery. Here again on Unfurling Putridity, it’s the mark of a star prospect.