Something about the word “supergroup” makes me want to run away screaming. It’s just that, for every Bloodbath, there are at least five ones that just come off average at best, or “just a sad / bad marketing idea” at worst. So when I saw Asphalt Graves tagged with the dreaded supergroup appellation, I scoffed a bit before I had to remind myself that there are exceptions…
And it’s good that I did, because Asphalt Graves is one of them.
According to a recent interview with vocalist Jason Netherton (also of Misery Index), the bulk of The New Primitive’s material was composed by guitarist Adam Faris (of War-Torn) and drummer Shannon Lucas (formerly of The Black Dahlia Murder and All That Remains, among others). Bassist Brent Purgason (of Gwar) and Netherton were brought in for the recording after the music was completed. Perhaps it’s that focusing of the writing efforts that makes The New Primitive feel more cohesive, or perhaps it’s just one of those times when it all comes together properly, but regardless, the result is the same: The New Primitive is a fun and ripping take on classic-sounding death/grind.
Clearly taking cues from early-90s Napalm Death, from World Downfall, from Disrupt and Nasum (the former’s “Mass Graves” and the latter’s “Time To Act” are covered herein), The New Primitive is a grand blend of memorable riff and blast-beat aggression. Netherton is arguably the most prominent member, and while his performance is as strong as anyone familiar with Misery Index would expect, the real stars of Asphalt Graves are Faris’ riffs and Lucas’ rhythms. From the single-note-to-power-chord crush that opens “Vulgar Theology” through the absolute blastfest of “Who Do You Serve?,” New Primitive opens strong and just gets better. The Disrupt cover matches the original in ferocity (the Nasum cover is good, but Nasum is godly), while the swinging drive of “Angst And Praise” proves that Asphalt Graves can groove as well as they grind. Still, even with the average track coming in at just over one minute, highlights remain in the epic-at-three-minute title track, where some of Faris’ best riffs twist together to provide a dark melodicism behind Netherton’s bark, and in the gnarled swagger of the album-closing “Exit From Reality,” wherein Lucas shifts expertly between mid-tempo lumber to blasting and back into a driving groove.
On a thirteen-song, twenty-five-minute grind album, there’s no time to waste, and rightfully, Asphalt Graves don’t screw around with any extraneous moments. In a day when hyphenated subgenres and bastardized styles reign supreme, it’s refreshing to find a record that avoids too many descriptors and gets straight back to the fundamental greatness of metal, back to the power and glory, to the riff and the energy. The term “supergroup” be damned – let’s just let this one be a band, and let it stay a band for a long time to come.
More of this, please.