Gravespawn: Grim Ancient Black Metal
Written by Brett Kihlmire
Formed while Seth ‘Reaver’ Brooke was serving in the US Army, the idea for Gravespawn came about in 2003. At the time, Reaver was playing keyboards and performing vocals for another band with current bassist Advorsus, and ex-guitarist Blasphem.
“Epic and melodic black metal was my biggest passion at the time, but I wanted to expand my horizons and do something more raw with a ‘fuck off’ attitude,” says Reaver, who felt his band at the time juust didn’t cut it. He soon created Gravespawn as a solo project.
Though he recorded the band’s first demo in South Korea while serving his final year in the Army, Reaver admits he wasn’t taking Gravespawn seriously at the time. Of course, once his main band split up things changed for the better.
‘My main band split up, so that’s when I decided to take Gravespawn seriously, guide it into a different direction, and play the more epic/melodic style that I was mainly into,” says Reaver, who describes the style that would follow as “Grim Ancient Black Metal.”
“We write and play a style that is a balance between raw and old school black metal, as well as melodic and atmospheric black metal. The goal is to create a sound that takes the listener on a journey through the darkness of myth and legend as well as the ancient past,” he adds.
Despite the original band hanging up their gear, Reaver managed to convince his bandmates to regroup for one last record, which would go on to become Gravespawn’s second demo ‘Forged in the Malice of Stygian Fire.’
Two demos under his belt and the Army behind him, Reaver moved to Phoenix to go attend college to learn music production. As the years pressed on and the band evolved, Gravespawn suffered the curse of many others – the revolving door lineup. Through it all, however, the band’s mainstay was always Reaver. Currently, the band consists of Reaver (Vocals, keyboards, and guitar), Advorsus (bass) and Verigo (guitar).
Though lineup changes have been a frustration for the band, Reaver doesn’t see it as the band’s greatest challenge.
“Our main challenge now is overcoming the distance between the three of us. I live in Los Angeles, Advorsus lives in Kansas, and Verigo lives in Charlotte. Getting the three of us together isn’t easy.”
Of course, the band has managed to pull together and score some serious victories for themselves.
“So far I think our greatest accomplishment has been the 4-way split with Wormreich, Diabolus Amator, and Vesterian. That split has received a lot of positive attention and allowed me to make some pretty great contacts. I hope to top it with even greater achievements soon.”
Released just a few months after the groundbreaking split record, Gravespawn unleashed the ‘Inexorable Grimness’ extended play in the early days of August 2016. Like their full length debut, ‘Woe to the Conquered,’ that release is currently available on most digital platforms. Reaver promises physical copies will be available soon through Vae Victus Productions, which is his own independent label.
As for the inspiration for the extended play: “I think my main inspiration was going to Austria and Germany, where a good chunk of my heritage comes from, for a couple of weeks of castles, beer, pagan burial grounds, ancient weapons, and metal. Within a week of returning home I had the five scratch tracks that would become the EP written and recorded.”
For those wondering what topics Gravespawn covers in their music, Reaver explains this in detail:
“I love ancient history and mythology. Ever since I was a kid that stuff fascinated me. Whether it was bugging my grandparents about our family history, reading books about Romans and the Barbarians, or being glued to the TV to watch Clash of the Titans or Jason and the Argonauts, it has always remained my second biggest interest and hobby, next to metal of course. In fact, I also fight in the SCA. If you don’t know what that is, just go to YouTube and type in ‘SCA battle.’”
A split and an extended play fresh on the minds of black metal fans everywhere, Gravespawn is planning on hitting the road as soon as they form a full lineup as well as another surprise:
“The second I play a show with the full line up, I’ll be filming it, and then filming music video footage shortly after.”
As of right now the band can most be found playing the West Coast, but in the words of Reaver “we’re looking to change that soon.” And that’s not to say the band doesn’t venture away from Los Angeles every now and then. The band played Kansas City, NO’s KC Black Metal Fest in 2015. So what can you expect from a Gravespawn show?
“My performance on stage is mostly influenced by old Immortal videos, especially Call of the Wintermoon,” says Reaver. “I can’t speak for the others though except maybe Advorsus since I’ve known him since we were kids. His performance was always influenced by Cliff Burton, whom he often spent hours trying to emulate I remember. You can expect a high energy performance from Gravespawn when you see us live.”
Due to the fact that the band is lacking a drummer at the moment, the band’s members are focusing on other projects for the time being. 2017, however, will be a big year for Gravespawn.
“We have some pretty big things on the horizon. We have a spot reserved on what will hopefully be a really big fest with a major headliner. The promoters are still looking sponsors though and haven’t made any official announcements so I can’t really say anything about it right now,” says Reaver. “We have some smaller gigs that we are planning on the east coast next summer as well. We are also working on re-recording 2005’s ‘Forged in the Malice of Stygian Fire’ album.”