Gabriele Gramaglia is the type of metal artist that prefers to keep his works compartmentalized. The Clearing Path offers Gorguts-meets-DHG weirdo prog/black metal that is as likely to confuse as to delight; Summit takes a similarly “cerebral,” detail-oriented, and fresh approach to the post/sludge genre; Oaken/Throne, meanwhile, throws out the heavy gray matter in favor of something more grindy and Swedeathy. So maybe less compartmentalized than different modes that are always influencing and inspiring the others.
There’s a bit of a Florida-by-way-of-Denmark-by-way-of-Poland feel to the record’s riffing, and if that sounds convoluted, well, refer back to that technigrime approach described above. There are cutting but heavy tremolo harmonies, bottom-feeding lurches, unabashedly infectious mid-paced passages, and speed-picked whirs. In other words: death metal riffs. The drumming provides all the requisite blasting and pummeling (and some nice ride cymbal passages), while the vocals – provided by Convulsing’s Brendan Sloan and Hadit’s XN – give the record a killer mix of deep growls and haggard screams, often at the same time.
One of the most notable things about the record is also the biggest possible point of contention: the brevity. At The Threshold is 29 minutes and nine tracks, only four of which eclipse the 3-minute mark. It’s a quick and somewhat narratively-arranged record meant to be taken in one listen. The drawback of this approach is that some of the songs feel a mite truncated; the quick ending of “The Unheard Shrieks,” for example, is particularly jarring, which might have been the intent.
In the instances when Gramaglia stretches things out, the record kills. The final two tracks – two of the longest – might be the best of the bunch. “The Ruinous Downfall” works itself up to a high tempo, almost enters into spacey black metal terrain, communicates the sound of failure or destruction (or ruin or downfall), then gets all greasy for the close. “The Dismal Black Nothingness,” then, is every bit the finale, growing from a mean lurch to a punchy, high energy, totally sassy finish.
Overall, Cosmic Putrefaction sees Gramaglia writing with some of the best ingredients of his young musical career, and in a few cases, writing the coolest songs too. At The Threshold Of The Greatest Chasm is undoubtedly a quite promising record, but the aforementioned brevity is likely to be a blessing or a curse, depending on one’s preferences. With a little more seasoning and refinement, this might be the metal mode in which Gramaglia will find the best success.