Artist: Grave (http://www.grave.se)
Album: As Rapture Comes
Release Date: July 25th, 2006
Label: Century Media
Recommended Tracks: Burn, Through Eternity, By Demons Breed, Unholy Terror, Epic Obliteration, As Rapture Comes
Over the years certain bands have come to be identified as the flag bearers of a particular genre of metal, but almost always there's another band or bands who toil in their shadow putting out material just as good or better as their more well known counterparts. When someone mentions the words "Gothenburg" or "Melodic Death" bands like At The Gates and old In Flames come to mind, but the real masters of the genre (and the only ones putting out anything listenable these days) are Dark Tranquillity. Opeth are considered the new vanguards of progressive, experimental death metal, but the criminally underrated Enslaved are matching them note for note these days. And when anyone mentions the searing, sludgy riffing associated with the Stockholm school of metal, Entombed is usually the first band named, but if there's one band still firmly rooted in this sound and still relevant to death metal it's Grave. In all three cases here the second band is less known commercially but, other than the Opeth comparison, the second band is still putting albums out in their genre's classic style that are excellent listens, rather than either a) putting out absolute garbage these days (I'm looking at you, In Flames), or b) getting burned out and fading away long ago (At The Gates is long gone and Entombed gave up death metal for a Motorhead-vibe years ago). That brings us to Grave's new album As Rapture Comes, which certainly doesn't break any new ground in the Stockholm-sound genre, but man does it provide one hell of a trip down its memory lane.
For their seventh full length album Grave have come out with quite possibly their most brutal offering to date, which is a welcome change from most elder statesmen of metal preferring to lighten up as they get longer in the tooth. This album is chock full of old school death growls, blast beats galore, and intense breakneck riffing from start to finish, featuring a much more mature and often technical style of playing that's a much more rewarding listen than some of their earlier stuff. Soundwise in the Grave catalog, As Rapture Comes probably compares most favorably to their crushing debut album Into The Grave, but a lot heavier and much more polished thanks to modern day production tricks and an overall maturity level that comes with going through the grind of staying true to a scene and a musical vision for over two decades despite constant roster turnover.
There's no doubt this album is an ear pounder from start to finish, but it still contains much of what has become Grave's signature niche carved out in the crowded Stockholm scene over the years - achingly slow, doomy, sludgy riffing bubbling like boiling molasses over a constant double bass fill that is guaranteed to get your head nodding and your horns up every single time. If the Melvins ever tried their hand at death metal, I think their entire album would be very close to the classic Grave breakdown sound. For the best examples of this check out the breakdowns in the songs "Through Eternity", "By Demons Breed", "Epic Obliteration", and the awesome 2-minute riff fest that closes out the title track and the album. To further drive home the sludgefest comparison the album contains an excellent cover of the old Alice in Chains radio anthem "Them Bones", which Grave completely destroys by adding in double bass to the pre-chorus sludge riffs of the original and making the song completely their own.
As mentioned earlier this album doesn't exactly re-invent the wheel musically, but it does put some spanking new tires on it begging to be taken for multiple burnouts. The album compares very favorably to last year's Bloodbath album Nightmares Made Flesh, which I thought was one of 2005's best releases. And thus far in 2006 I'm putting As Rapture Comes on my list of potential best albums of the year, as it is a solid pure death metal album from start to finish that is pretty much all killer and zero filler (save for pointless metal album 45 second ambient intro track #237451234513). In fact the awesomeness of this album can be summed up in one phrase: This album is all Grave-y baby!
Got something to say? Post it in the Atlanta Metal Forums!
Artist: Grave (http://www.grave.se)