"Gratum Inferno"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Originating from neo-fascist Texas, Cleric does their level best to pay tribute to the first two Entombed albums. And they do a very good job of it, too! "Gratum Inferno" is a better Swedish death metal album that some slabs actually hailing from Sweden itself. It's obvious these guys put some thought into what they were trying to do here, instead of just getting drunk on a night off of their regular bands and bashing out another substandard "tribute" album.

Members of Cleric hail from well-known grind band Kill The Client and the not so well known Baring Teeth and Tyrannosorceress (who I give a thumbs up to on virtue of their name alone). When you listen to Cleric, you know right off the bat that classic Entombed is the wellspring of inspiration. They manage to get the crunching Skogsberg-style guitar sound down pat and better yet, their songs are the same mixture of catchy brutality and all-out chaos that typifies great Swedish death metal. The songs are not overly complex, but they do feature some little twists that keep them from being flat. "Satanic Dimensions" has got more hooks than Marvin Hagler in his prime and it rolls along in time-honored Stockholm style. I like the way "From Womb To Tomb" segues from an eerie sample into an avalanche of ravaging mid-paced crunch.

I do feel Cleric lacks some of the twin guitar melodies that propelled the best of Entombed and Dismember. While lead work is not totally absent here, it surely is not the focal point. And yeah, despite its better than typical construction, "Gratum Inferno" is still highly derivative. But it's a good fix of pseudo-Swedish mayhem and I wouldn't mind seeing these guys continue onwards.