Regardless of how hard I try to control myself, I always end up having certain expectations as I proceed to push the Play button on a new Metal album, especially by Old-School Metal bands. A list automatically gets created in my head about the kind of elements it must possess, and I find myself crossing out points from it as I encounter them in the compositions. How many I crossed out by the end determines the extent to which I enjoyed the album. Grave’s latest release made me cross out each point in that list with such ferocity, that by the end of it, it was shredded beyond recognition. Such is the awesomeness of their 11th full length album ‘Out Of Respect For The Dead’. Their latest offering will be out on 16th October via Century Media, and trust me, it is one bad-ass piece of Old-School Death Metal goodness.
Formed in 1986, Grave is no stranger to the Death Metal scene. Battling line-up changes and a brief hiatus in 1997, the band has stood tall against all odds and in fact, judging by their latest release, have actually become stronger. Everything that you expect from an Old-School Death Metal band is in lethal doses on this album; be it abrasive distorted riffage, ominous soundscapes, blinding ferocity, or raw, bestial vocals. You will be satiated thoroughly from the start till the end.
“Intro/Mass Grave” kick-starts with a corrosively ominous tone on the guitars, slowly creeping up to you and suddenly jumping out of the shadows with the most ferocious Death Metal riffage to rip your ears apart. Although you will be expecting the track to explode, but even then, the savagery will surprise you. Ola Lindgren’s manic tremolo riffage as well as his volcanic vocals will jolt you out of your seats. The song twists into a doomy avatar, losing the frenetic pace around the midway mark. It rumbles on with Ronnie Bergerståhl’s booming double bass beneath a sinister riff before bursting into a short atonal solo to round up the track. By the end of it, your ears feel as if a storm passed through it. But rest is far from what you get as “Flesh Before My Eyes” has its way with your eardrums. Grave possess this amazing ability of amalgamating evil Doom laden riffs with frenetic Death Metal riffage. It comes off really well in “Flesh Before My Eyes” as it alternates between the fluttering tremolo riffage and face-melting Doomy riffs.
“Plain Pine Box” sheds the frenetic pace of its predecessors, but oozes with never-ending groove. Bergerståhl’s heavy snare hits sound like gunshots amidst the heavily distorted ambience. With a fairly simplistic riff pattern, “Plain Pine Box” is one of the simpler compositions on the album, but thoroughly enjoyable nevertheless. Although the band seems to follow a formulaic style of songwriting, alternating between the slow Doom Metal influences and its faster Death Metal avatar, the compositions keep you interested throughout. The slow parts are monstrously sinister, and the ominous ambience it creates makes you sit at the edge of your seats before the manic tremolo riffage consumes you. “Redeemed Through Hate” and “Deified” are prime examples of this: both explode with an in-your-face riff and follow it up with a groovy midsection before getting the tempo back up again.“Deified” gets extra points though, with Tobias Cristiansson’s bass stomping around with attitude towards the end of the track.
Apart from the great songwriting on the album, the band nails the album artwork with a hypnotic cover that sucks the viewer in. It has many elements cleverly weaved into it that forces you to stare at it for long trying to decipher more such hidden elements. Another factor that stands out is the production. It achieves perfection in maintaining the band’s brutal sound without going overboard with the raw sound and sounding too muddy. Everything from Cristiannson’s massive bass to Lindgren’s and Mika Lagrén abrasive rhythms and Bergerståhl’s powerful hits behind the drumkit, fit together perfectly. The band also keeps the album sharp and precise, with its length barely crossing the 48-minute mark.
To summarize, Grave may have released their heaviest and angriest album yet in ‘Out Of Respect For The Dead’. Once you start playing the album, it’s difficult to stop yourself from getting consumed by the massively distorted ambience the band creates. This album should not be missed. Period.