Grave – Into The Grave – 4/5
A common trend observed in Death Metal these days tends to be an attempt at making more aggressive sounding music. Often the melody gets left behind as focus is shifted to deep, distorted, quick guitar riffs and low-pitched, guttural vocals. It’s this notable lack of melody that turns me away from most Death Metal – especially those released in the more recent years, so here we have the re-issue of a the ’91 album by Grave. This is the first time I’ve heard them, in fact I think it’s the first time I’ve heard of them, and I must admit I was pleasantly surprised.
It opens with a track called ‘deformed,’ and right from the get go, an assault of deep aggressive riffs and a repeated crash of the cymbals is bombarded in your general direction. At this point, I started to get a little worried. The problem I described about a lack of melody clearly prevails until about a minute into the song, where it somehow shifts and a distinctive melody becomes apparent. All of the tracks shift between the frantic, aggressive, style and the deep melodic riffs providing a morbid atmosphere for the vocals to do their thing.
The vocalist here does well at keeping the violent sense to the music going throughout each of the tracks on this album. The vocals tread a fine line between brutality and clarity, and he manages to get a balance better than most I’ve heard. They’re consistent and fitting, yet it requires comparatively little effort to understand what he’s saying. My main comment against them is that they are quite monotonous (save for the odd scream here or there). Some variation on pitch would have improved this aspect.
The guitars on this album are instrumental in making it as good as it is. They’re no atheist – switching between completely different styles – but they succeed in varying between the raw brutality and melodic morbidity, whilst retaining simple riffs reminding me of the more recent bolt thrower albums - Simple, yet both effective and somehow catchy at the same time, (especially noted on the track “Haunted.”). No riff seems to get overplayed, and each song retains an oddly distinct flavour, despite resulting in the same atmosphere. The drumming follows a similar pattern, frequently varying, and not overusing any particular beat whilst keeping the tempo where it should be (no cymbal abuse or over-use of blast beats!) whether that’s savage aggression or gloomy unpredictability.
What we have here is an example of how Death Metal should be done. They don’t break any new ground, or do anything particularly unusual and the tracks occasionally blur at times, but this a solid album, playing their own take on a genre growing in popularity, and doing a damn good job of it.
(Highlights: Into The Grave, Haunted, Inhuman)
By T. Bawden