Vore – Gravehammer Review

Originally written by Jordan Campbell

Anthony Bourdain often muses that the best chefs are the ones that see themselves as craftsmen, not artists. Free of pretense, these chefs strive to execute their chosen trade in expert fashion, driven by the passion of perfection and the satisfaction of a triumphant result. Those that regard themselves as artists and innovators, by contrast, tend to disappear up their own asses, their expertise wasted on self-congratulation and grandstanding.

His basic point is this: Being a pretentious asshole is only going to win you other pretentious asshole friends. The cost outweighs the benefit. At some point, you have to look at yourself and ask, “What drew me into this in the first place?

Vore is a band that hasn’t lost sight of that inital draw. While many purveyors of the (now waning) tech-death wave may have cut their teeth on the basics, they’ve since become immobilized in carrot foam and liquid nitrogen, to the point where grilling a fuckin’ steak is a distant memory.

Now, living outside of the cutting edge hasn’t done Vore any favors in terms of popularity. Neither has releasing a mere three full-lengths (Gravehammer included) since their 1994 inception. Nor has the fact that they reside in Arkansas and have a touring schedule that rivals Vindsval’s. (And, while we’re piling it on, their band logo, which looks like a fried egg stuck in a dead lilac bush, probably isn’t stoking much in the way of merch sales.) But the savviest of death metal bastards will tell you this:

Vore fucking rules.

Why? Because they’re dedicated. They’ve chosen a trade–no-frills, mid-paced, ball-swinging death metal–and devoted their lives to perfecting it.Gravehammer is their latest chronicle, and it further cements Vore as a death metal fan’s death metal band.

Much like 2005’s Maleficus, Gravehammer doesn’t blow its load immediately; in fact, it’s best digested passively. Press play, put the thing at a moderate volume, and wait. Page Townsley’s simplistic riffing and colossal growls cruise along, but this ride is built on rails of rhythm. When he links up with drummer Remy Cameron and they find a streamrollin’ sweet spot, Vore is absolutely nuclear.

Gravehammer relies on steady, stern pacing in the Bolt Thrower mold, thornwrapping it with clean, burly, Floridian production. Swagger is in plentiful supply, as is a knack for flogging the living shit out of a killer riff… and knowing exactly when to let it go.

For example, take the vertebreaking bliss that they’ve nailed into the midsection of “Doomwhore,” which might be the most catastrophic megaton riffbomb since SYL dropped “Aftermath.” Or the pulverizing knuckledown of “The Claw is the Law,” which fully compensates for whatever Inspector Gadget memories are conjured with help-my-blood-just-turned-to-lead heaviness.

Vore is, and always has been, a band of moments, but this fact doesn’t trivialize the whole. On Gravehammer, they exhibit their expert ability to step up at the right times while also engaging throughout the entire course of their lengthy compositions. Not every tactic in their arsenal need be lethal, and they employ their most severe attacks only when the opportunity is ideal.

These are the hallmarks of a veteran band. A veteran band that knows–and loves–its craft. Vore are consummate craftsmen. Gravehammer is a motherfucking death metal clinic, and fans and peers alike should bow before Vore’s cruel tutelage.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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