SOULGRIND have a certain cult status in the underground, me having read quite a bit about them, but never having had the actual chance to hear any of their material. Part of the surprising first package I ever received from French Holy Records I now could change this and one thing is for sure, SOULGRIND definitely are not mainstream!
Ok, melodic they are, keyboards they use, a harsh voice they have and some female vocals can be found. What does this result in? Something that comfortably rests between the chairs of Black Metal, a little Gothic Metal. Doom Metal and some traditional Metal. How to call it? I've got no clue, but the categorization of Dark Metal might fit here, even though that is a label that is so nicely open that it can be attributed to all kinds of things, heh.
Opener "Lurid Circle" is a very good example what SOULGRIND stand for, a mix of orchestral and heavy passages, with the female voice (unfortunately Holy did not present me with an info sheet, so the lady has to remain nameless, I fear) complementing the harsh voice very nicely, also with the music being very varied without getting complex. So this song alone already shows that these Finns are anything but one-dimensional and the rest of the album proves that even more.
"Rutjas Rapids Through The River Of The Otherworld" is very melodic and atmospheric, while "Odious Emotion" shows the rougher side of SOULGRIND, with "The Swan And The Fox" being kind of the middle way between the two of them. And we even get a pure Doom song with "Until Love Kills". One thing is for sure, this band caters to fans of both the heavier and the more melodic camps, because they do not rely on either side and its usual elements, but mix them up, with this creating a quite own sound, which works in their favour, even more so, when also clean male vocals (excellent ones, btw) are added.
Despite being accessible and not really complex, SOULGRIND still are not a band for everybody or for the background listening, for that too much is going on in the songs and if you listen to this, then you'll have to admit that for purists they either are too slow, too melodic, too many keyboards, too many female vocals, too harsh voice and too whatever… But I don't care, "Into The Dark Vales Of Death" is a good album, basta! (Online May 31, 2003)