Venerable Death Metal legends since they released their first demos in the late 1980’s, Sweden’s GRAVE are back with their latest full-length, the half-Doom, half-Thrash/Punk, half-Death extravaganza, “Burial Ground.”
Sorry, I was never good at math.
Aside from the horrifically awesome cover art, “Burial Ground” is a working man’s ode to all things fucking Metal. This album is covered in dirt and shit and scabs and scars and it fuckin’ wails on you. Why does it inflict such punishment on its listeners? Well, because GRAVE know that you’ve been dabbling in the baby-puke that Death Metal has been vomiting out lately - complete with its excessive pinched harmonics, over-used breakdowns, and unconvincing attitude – and these guys want you to remember what it’s like to own up, line those knuckles, and break your neck.
Take your balls out of your purse, blow a snot-rocket, raise those horns, and get ready for some Old School Death Metal that’ll put hair on your chest and some lead in your pencil.
“Liberation” starts things off violently and you should already be banging that worthless lamb-chop you call a head. GRAVE do a complementary job of melding thrashing-ass mayhem with Punk chord progression and then slowing it down for some of that good ole pendulous monster groove. “Ridden with Belief” is a solid example of the aforementioned description, but “Outcast” may be an even more apt and burly specimen.
As mean and evil-sounding as “Burial Ground” remains, it’s not perfection. A few song structures and hooks are extremely familiar and predictable, “Semblance in Black” for instance, and the sick drumming by Ronnie Bergerståhl might be a little too muffled for its own good. That last part is subjective, though – I prefer my bass kicks just a little meatier.
On the other hand, tunes like the fucking bad-ass “Conquerer,” the brutally heavy and Doom-worshiping closer “Burial Ground,” and the gnarly, riff-crazy “Bloodtrail,” which features NILE’s Karl Sanders shredding as a guest lead guitarist, soak this album with enough bloody adrenaline to weather any critical shitstorm.
It’s fast and chaotic, it’s slow and trudging, it’s malicious and downright smeared in muddy, muddy Metal. One of the better Old School Death Metal albums of the year, these old bastards just may surprise you like they did me.
Me(n)tal Note: The song “Sexual Mutilation” gets a slick refurnishing from its original 1988 demo release.
(Online December 23, 2010)