Grave: Endless procession of souls
06/09/12 || Smalley
Grave is one of those legendary metal bands that I just never got around to spending any real time with; sure, I have heard a song or two from ‘em before, and am well aware of their reputation/influence in the Swedeath scene, but I guess all the other distractions in the metal word (new releases, old classics, etc…) just kept delaying me. However, my insatiable lust for to stay current with all new metal has lead me to claim “Endless procession of souls”, and considering that I’m a pretty big death metal guy, and I do definitely enjoy me some Swedeath, I decided I should be able to enjoy/write up “Endless procession…” just fine, even without knowing its context within the band’s discography. Hell, I might even be able to enjoy it more without all that historical baggage to deal with! So read onward, faithful metalheads, to see how it turned out.
Opening intro “Dystopia” is a surprisingly doomy lil’ bit of guitar tomfoolery, sounding a lot more Triptykon than Entombed. It’s nice at first, but repeated listens render it a needless, one-dimensional detour, almost exactly like every intro track recorded in the last 10 years; not surprising for being named after such a forgettable album, eh? Anyway, the record truly starts with “Amongst marble and the dead”, a dark, aggressive, mid-tempo number, which is greatly aided by its mean, gnashing rhythm guitar sound; it ain’t a match for the classic Sunlight Studios chainsaw, but as far as replacements go, it’s still pretty damn good. The sludgy, foreboding breakdown in the middle is also nice, and prevents too much mid-tempo tedium from popping up in the track, and the brief, but still killer solo is also pleasing; pretty good work, all in all.
From there, all the rest of “souls” is definitely enjoyable stuff, but not really anything that… excels, y’know? Even not knowing their previous records, I can still hear here that Grave is a veteran act doing something that they well know how to do. And they do do it well, it’s just that, there’s this certain lack of… youthful passion, or adventurousness, or whatever that’s missing here; there is the occasional flash of something more off-the-beaten-path, like the thrashing that opens up “Disembodied steps”, the unexpected thrashy/punkiness of “Perimortem”, or the doomy, crawling riff-march that opens “Winds of chains”, but these moments are not super-common here, and besides that, “souls” is mostly just Grave heading to that ol’ Swedeath well. It’s all solid, heavy, and catchy material, but also kind of safe, and a bit predictably structured.
I don’t blame Grave for giving us “just” a good record here though, instead of a great one; they’ve been playing Swedeath for at least 2 decades now, but that’s what they want to do, and they’re still rock-solid at it, so of course, I’m fine with that. I don’t demand any band to have to constantly change their core sound in order to stay “fresh”; a few bands might be good at that (Ulver), but more often, you get something nasty with constant changes, like… modern Metallica. Ick. So, Grave can stick with what they know, and I don’t really have a prob with that, I’m just sayin’, some old bands can make their old genre sound more energized than others, and Grave is kind of in the mid-range of that category.
Still, I won’t be turning down this one anytime soon, not by a long shot. So, to do a badly needed sum-up here, “souls” is quite enjoyable, it’s just that its moderate lack of ambition won’t keep it stuck in my head, or land it on my end-of-year top metal 10 or anything. Anyway, I don’t know if Grave fanatics will be more or less satisfied by this effort, depending on which albums they compare it to… they may find it more of a return to form compared to the other, newer records, or a let-down compared to the older shit. Or something else entirely! But, I still have the feeling they’ll probably enjoy “Endless procession…”, and agree that my review was fairly accurate in its analysis; who said uninformed is always bad, eh?
- Released: 2012
- Label: Century Media
- Website: www.grave.se
- Ola Lindgren: guitars, vocals
- Mika Lagrén: guitars
- Tobias Cristiansson: bass
- Ronnie Bergerståhl: drums
- 01. Dystopia
- 02. Amongst Marble And The Dead
- 03. Disembodied Steps
- 04. Flesh Epistle
- 05. Passion Of The Weak
- 06. Winds Of Chains
- 07. Encountering The Divine
- 08. Perimortem
- 09. Plague Of Nations
- 10. Epos