Odds are you’re going to see the band name, that they play death metal, and your thoughts are instantly going to go to one place – Bolt Thrower. But even if they are heavily influenced by that mighty band, and have a name derived from arguably their best song, there’s more to World Eaters than simple Bolt Thrower worship. Even if Grinding Advance is drawn from the same source sound – with heavy riffs pushing forward, propelled by relentless drums and topped by commanding vocals – it takes the Bolt Thrower-style, old-school death metal template into some unexpected directions. It makes Grinding Advance an EP that captures the best bits of OSDM whilst also showing that more can be done with it than simple hero-worship.
The opening track, ‘Armoured Spearhead’, is the most straightforward of the four on offer. A Warhammer 40,000-inspired spoken-word intro setting out the horrors of war sets the scene, before a take-no-prisoners riff and drum battery comes crashing in. It’s an immediate rush, and an excellent way to open Grinding Advance. If the rest of the EP carried on in that style there’d be little cause for complaint, but instead Grinding Advance grows in ambition as it progresses. Second track, ‘Expedition/Tomb World’ is the longest on the EP, and takes a much slower, more drawn-out approach to OSDM. At almost nine minutes it lingers a touch too long, with its doom-like tempos and bleak atmosphere providing a stark contrast to what has gone before. It’s maybe this contrast that ultimately undermines the song – taken in isolation it’s perfectly fine, but coming after the fury of ‘Armoured Spearhead’ it’s a bit too jarring a shift from all-out assault to this more oppressive horror.
‘Escape from the Underdark’ represents another approach to OSDM, and it’s here where World Eaters really show their full potential. What starts off as fairly standard Bolt Thrower-worship (admittedly, very high-quality Bolt Thrower-worship!) changes character as the song moves on, with some of the questing character of The IVth Crusade present in the melodies rather than just the stomp of Realm of Chaos. But then, around the 4-minute mark, there’s a shift into a more melodic break, followed by a flute melody backed up by strings, and it is perfect. It is the crushing promise of death metal melded with the life-affirming joy of the very best of folk metal distilled into one movement, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is. It sets up arguably the best closing two minutes to a song I’ve heard this year, and makes the majority of other OSDM-inspired bands look redundant in their lack of ambition and risk-taking. It’s the kind of thing that could have gone terribly wrong, but it’s executed flawlessly.
The EP is then seen out by a cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’, which is a fine bit of fun. It stays as true to the original as a death metal cover of an avant-garde pop song could. If you like this style of death metal and the original song, you’ll like this. If you don’t like either, then you’re probably not the target audience for this. But if you are, then you’ll appreciate it for what it is – a fun little way to close out a very enjoyable EP.
Whilst Grinding Advance does have a few rough edges those are hugely eclipsed by how strong and enjoyable the EP is overall. ‘Escape from the Underdark’ in particular is a behemoth of a song, being the most life-affirming piece of death metal I’ve heard in a long, long time. Overall, Grinding Advance shows that whilst the individual behind World Eaters understands how to make great OSDM, it also demonstrates that they have ideas on how to expand on that template, and won’t be boxed in by genre constraints.
Grinding Advance is out June 18th and can be ordered here.
Words: Stuart Wain