The best part about demos? You get to hear bands at their most primordial. Renaming themselves Graveripper, these Indiana thrashers cranked out a three-song demo in 2019 under the Death Ensemble banner. To start with, the demo as a whole, yes, is a neck-wrecking raging slab of thrash, so go nuts in that department.
With that out of the way, Graveripper’s Death Ensemble: 2019 Demo has a lot of replay value. The two things that sound out the most throughout the demo is the pacing, which is brisk and full of surprises and Corey Parks’ cadence as a vocalist and as a guitarist is on point. As far as the individual songs themselves, all three have distinct personalities.
With a rhythm section in thrash territory on “The Entity Returned,” it still proves malleable to the 90s extreme metal influence of the lead guitar and vocals, which are also malleable, giving the right amount of chug to get you thrashing. Needless to say, “The Entity Returned” is a track that’s not afraid to travel outside the realm of thrash.
“Gods of Eldritch Horror ” is an interesting case of having a little bit of everything. The song’s icy opening gives the riffs a blackened sheen, and the band’s brief foray into Obituary land bounces nicely off of the pseudo hardcore vocals, all of which gels together nicely, especially during the chorus. With only three songs to pick as a theoretical favorite song, it’s a tough pick, but “Gods of Eldritch Horror ” is the most focused track on the demo.
While the thrash classification permeates Graveripper’s 2019 demo, “Arrogance Demised” is the most straightforward track on the demo. The previous two songs suggested that Graveripper wanted to do things a bit differently, but “Arrogance Demised” is where they cut loose. Channeling the spirits of the speed metal gods, Graveripper makes the most liberal use of those beloved thrash riffs seen on the demo. Considering the inclusion of a fast and loose guitar solo (which had been surprisingly absent up to this point), “Arrogance Demised” utilizes the thrash’s more traditional characteristics, and the bottom line is if you like thrash, there’s nothing to hate about this track.
Graveripper’s demo does have drawbacks, but they’re the necessary evils of a band’s formative period. Make no mistake, the musicianship on Death Ensemble: 2019 Demo is brilliant, and they have superb taste in cherry-picking the elements that work best from them, but they’re still tinkering with their identity. This isn’t a bad thing; Graveripper made greats choices in picking the tools they want to use to build said identity.
The Death Ensemble demo was released this past July and is available for purchase at Graveripper’s Bandcamp page.