What do you think of when you think of New York City? Perhaps it’s fashion, architecture, high culture, some of that Vile Luxury people are always talking about these days. Perhaps it’s adorable, pizza-loving sewer creatures, both furry and smooth skinned, just trying to make it in the world. Well, put any thoughts of a happy and bright city out of your mind, at least for the next twenty-something minutes. Gravesend are back with their anticipated debut full-length Methods of Human Disposal, and they aim to paint a picture of a very different New York City than you might imagine.
Following on the heels of their much-lauded 2020 EP Preparations for Human Disposal, the New York City based death/grind/black metal trio aim to cause as much chaos and perversion as possible in as little time as possible. On this, both their debut LP and the 2021 debut from 20 Buck Spin, the band seeks to tell the story of a city of “discarded needles, noxious fumes, scavenging rats, broken bottles, and cracked minds.” The band’s home city is used as a backdrop for stories of grotesque filth, corruption, urban blight and disgust. Lyrical content aside, the band also employs filthy, nasty riffs and violent, whiplash drums to churn out their signature blend of brutal, no-holds-barred grindcore and death metal insanity, with subtle touches of black metal surrealness and even some jarring synth work. Of course, the blend of grind and death metal is nothing new, but I think the ratio explored here is unique in that the proportions are more even than you would find somewhere else. My experience is that deathgrind bands tend to lean more one way or the other, but Methods is a tight mix of everything in the right fractions. This is certainly helped along but production values that was a lot tighter than I was expecting. Everything rings crisp and clear here, and I was actually impressed by how much definition there is in the guitars. Of course, the vocals are blurred a smidge with gain, but when at least a quarter of your lyrics are just “UGH”, do you really need them to be clear?
In case you didn’t pick up on it already, this is a filthy, disgusting, nasty album, in every good way possible. The riffs are savage, the bass is slathered in distortion and in-your-face, the drums are wild, and in tried-and-true grindcore fashion, the songs move at a blistering pace, but there is plenty of memorable moments that are guaranteed to stick in your brain. Every album seems to feature riffs that are much more musical than you might find on the average grind affair. Take, for example, “Unclaimed Remains,” which pounds and stomps through a huge, anthemic riff; or “Needle Park,” which runs the gamut of slimy crust, old-school death metal and vintage black metal all in about ninety seconds. It’s not a pretty affair, but it absolutely rips, and it’s just an awful lot of fun to listen to. The riffs dig deep into the primal animal brain that just wants to stomp and thrash around, and every single time vocalist A drops an “UGH” there is no way to resist grinning and UGH-ing right back. Is Methods of Human Disposal on the short side? Sure, but at least it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Is there a little bit of sameness running through? Yes, a little bit, but that doesn’t really bother me in this format. The songs are catchy enough that they don’t blend together into a mush, and the ambient synth pieces do a lot to break the album up.
I think the cover says it all: Methods of Human Disposal sounds like a nun taking a shit, in the best way possible. It scratched an itch for me that I didn’t even know I had. It’s a shocking, vile tale of the underbelly of a city that is pretty well known for its extreme duality. Some choose to explore the highs, Gravesend are pretty comfortable sinking to the lows, and I’m thankful for it.