Gravewurm Blood of the Pentagram

Kicking around black metal for some 20 years, American duo Gravewurm are no strangers to the corpse paint-encrusted extreme music scene. Preferring a more patient approach, they maintain a methodical, programmed pace rarely extending beyond something as fast as your average Van Halen song, with double kick. But factor in scorched vocals and distorted guitar drenched in reverb and the classification in their respective genre holds true. For a band hammering out this brand of half-time, minimalist black metal for so long, one would imagine they'd have branched out beyond giving the overt impression of being novices by now. Every second of Blood of the Pentagram feels like the result of little more than some guy with a copy of GarageBand and a fleeting interest in black metal prodding him to do something other than waste more time on Call of Duty: Black Ops. The lack of production leaves the affair sounding incredibly thin and messy, while the vocals become a bit grating and the droning pace is almost sleep-inducing after six songs, let alone the album's 40-plus minutes. Moreover, many riffs are simply forgettable ― the antithesis of what an album should accomplish. While the idea behind both Gravewurm and Blood of the Pentagram ― groove-based dark metal ― is great, there isn't enough here to justify what they've created beyond a passing glance. (Hells Headbangers)