Gravemind // Conduit [Album Review]

Band: Gravemind Release: Conduit Area: Melbourne, Australia Date of release: 19/07/2019 Genre: Metalcore / Technical Breakdowncore Record Label: Greyscale Records For Fans Of: Northlane, Ocean Grove, Thy Art is Murder Next Gig: Greyscale Showcase - 10/08/19

"Nothing burns brighter than me Before I leave this earth, there will be no stone left unturned It was the price of standing still that enveloped us" - Zero-Point Energy

Following the teases, the cryptic hints, the fantastic music videos, a slew of high profile shows and all the hype in the world following their Greyscale Records signing, Gravemind have unleashed "Conduit" and it was well worth the wait. These boys have arrived with a statement and deserve your full, undivided attention.

The band introduces this beastly 11 track album with ‘The Effigy’, a short, sweet, but ultimately fierce opening song that seems to lyrically lend to the idea of a human entity being created and what its thoughts are during this process. Becoming a conduit, if you will, for its mind and soul into a seemingly bleak reality. This orchestral-laden intro filler then seamlessly transitions into ‘Reveal’ to further flesh out the musical groundwork previously laid by ‘The Effigy’. A tried and true technique featured in album releases for years and Gravemind have nailed their execution.

The second track, thankfully, does not disappoint. This is the first real taste of the new album outside of the singles we have already heard and by God, it’s an indication that this debut LP is all killer, no filler; which is emphasized the deeper you get into it. ‘Reveal’ starts off with an absolute belter of a riff and builds into a crescendo featuring an emotionally driven monologue right before the climax. Whilst I don’t think it quite packs the same punch as the one featured later in ‘Phantom Pain’ due to its short length, this particular spoken word stood out to me among the other similar sections Gravemind have implemented in the past.

"Conduit" then moves into one of the three pre-release singles, ‘Volgin’, by assaulting our ears from the get-go. The ‘layers of aggressive blast-beats…Dylan’s distinct screams and style’ and pure mastery of musical composition were covered following its release, you can read an in-depth review of that track here. Interestingly enough, the music video seems to symbolically complete a lyrical arc that began with ‘The Effigy’, as the story’s main subject incinerates in a shower of flames, serving its purpose as an effigy.

It is incredibly difficult to put any of the singles above the others, as they all offered different aspects and strengths that made them uniquely stand out in the build-up to the release of "Conduit". ‘Volgin’ was excellently written, as was ‘Phantom Pain’, and both offered visuals that complimented their individual compositions in such diverse manners. ‘Phantom Pain’ evoked feelings in me I haven’t felt from a music video in years, if ever, and ‘Reading:Steiner’ allowed fans to get a glimpse of Gravemind performing in a studio setting, which further allowed them to flex their musical ability to those who may not have experienced them at a live show just yet. Pro tip – you really need to.

This album is littered with songs that fans of Gravemind are no doubt scratching at the bit to see live. ‘Vox Populi’ is played with such tight, aggressive perfection that its early staccato chugs almost sound artificially glitched. At the same time, Karl Steller drums with a high level of technical expertise that literally prevents you from ignoring his ability in any of these songs. It’s almost as if he is out to prove a point with his skills, as I found my attention constantly drawn to his fills and general acuity on the tubs. ‘Zero Point Energy’ and ‘Embrace’ are other standouts that I hope make it into their performance set list, with plenty of excellent song writing and energy for the crowd to feed off of. The latter of which featured some really cool Ocean Grove-esque sounds towards the end, which should come to the surprise of no one due to a fair bit more ‘groove’ tastefully littered throughout the album.

Another point of Conduit not to be looked past is Dylan Gillies-Parsons impeccable lyrics and ability to weave words, sentences and overlapping themes from song to song. He has evolved far beyond telling tales of twisted doom on "The Hateful One" and creating engaging sci-fi lore with "Deathgate", to now telling reflective stories abundant with raw emotion that engage the audience deeper than his vocal talent can alone. In turn, his skill adds further to the effectiveness of his word choice, bearing clarity that is unmatched by few bands, if any, in today’s music landscape. He is a wordsmith in his own right, and a truly talented vocalist at the forefront of a musical engine ready to take over the world.

Alas, a great vocalist and drummer does not a band make, as Aden Young, Michael Petritsch and Damon Bredin carry their own weight, and then some, with their immaculate playing ability. Damon seems to be scary good at writing music, spear heading the creative process behind the Gravemind tunes we all know and love, (which Dylan touched on in our recent interview) whilst being flanked by two very talented guitarists in their own right. The songwriting and associated playing ability is nothing to be merely looked over, as I’m actually quite shocked at how efficient the band is at progressing through their songs.

Although I touched on it briefly with the release of ‘Volgin’, the structural composition of that single, as well as the rest of the album, can’t be described as anything less than perfect. Every riff, breakdown, tempo change and drum beat melds together in a perfect blend of chaotic harmony or sombre ambience and goes for the perfect amount of time before seamlessly transitioning to the next part of the song. Every note, word, chug and syncopated snare hit seems to be so precisely placed that Damon and company. have made the feat of writing a ridiculously good album seem almost effortless. I couldn’t even have this on as background music doing other tasks, my attention would constantly shift back to listening to these ferocious tunes and I was helpless in trying to stay focused because, as previously mentioned, this band and this release demand your attention.

Unlike most other albums I’ve listened to over the years: debut, sophomore, or otherwise – "Conduit" doesn’t hit the lull point that most LP’s tend to at the half way point or shortly thereafter. The singles are tactfully spread through the track listing and the back catalogue possess enough quality to make it an enjoyable listen whether you’re charging through it in a linear fashion or popping this bad boy on shuffle. Even the album’s curtain closer, ‘The Entropy’, clocks in at just under 5 minutes and manages to move at a pace that doesn’t leave the listener dragging their feet. Hell, after listening to it and finishing off my first listen of all 11 tracks, I somehow found myself wanting more. Physical release collectors are also in luck! A very spicy and secretive bonus track, apparently by the name of 'Repulse[d]' has been found as the last track on the B side of the record, I wont spoil it here for you though. This album satiated my hunger before reminding me, again, exactly what this band is capable of and I’ve found myself already eagerly anticipating the next chapter in their journey as a result.

"Conduit" is available now on all major streaming platforms with physical copies and bundles available through usual outlets such as 24hundred and JB Hi-Fi. This is not an album you want to miss and will be the last opportunity you have to jump on the band wagon before these guys blow the fuck up. Long live Gravemind.

- Conduit Track List -

1. The Effigy 2. Reveal 3. Volgin 4. Vox Populi 5. Hard Rain 6. Phantom Pain 7. Reading;Stiener 8. Zero-Point Energy 9. Hollow 10. Embrade 11. The Entropy

12. "Repulse[d]" (Physical Release Bonus Track)

Vocals: 9.5/10

Guitars: 9/10 Bass: 9.5/10 Drums: 10/10 Lyrics: 5/5

Would You Go And See Them: 5/5

Mixing: 10/10

Production: 20/20 Structure: 19/20

Overall: 97/100 Personal Enjoyment: 10/10


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