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Well here's yet another album from Grave, another one of those bands that has a massive fanbase for seemingly no other reason than the fact that they were a death metal band from Sweden that released albums in the early 90s. I guess I can sort of understand the appeal, but even the album people consider to be their crowning achievement most of the time (Into the Grave) was one I've never been honestly able to praise really highly; don't get me wrong, I like Swedeath, any self-respecting metalhead probably should, but the other two big bands from that scene had something to offer that was all their own. Dismember had their strong sense of melody complimented with their razor-sharp tone that you can't really find anywhere else these days and Entombed was essentially rock music in death metal drag- done very well mind you. Grave seemed to almost be closer to the Floridian death metal scene in the sense that they opted instead to focus on blunt, bludgeoning brutality- not necessarily a bad path to take in principle, but not necessarily an original path, either. Although originality isn't everything, Grave kind of gets lost in the sea of death metal that was sprouting up at the time because of how common the style of death metal they play was at the time.
15-odd years later, Grave are still kicking with the death metal formula they've had since the late 80s, despite a few dangerous flirtations with groovier material in the mid 90s. At this point, one knows exactly what they're going to get from a Grave album- which is somewhat admirable in a way, consistency is something I really wish I could see more of in a metal genre plagued by bad flashy stylistic experimentation. However, since Grave really never carved their own individual niche to begin with and instead settled into familiar territory, a decade and a half later As Rapture Comes sounds ridiculously predictable and irrelevant.
A band that's been touring, writing and recording for the better part of 15 years certainly isn't going to sound crude or clunky, and Grave are certainly no exception. As Rapture Comes is an album executed with thorough class and professionalism; these guys are confident in their abilities and never sound unsure of what they're doing. They can go from midpaced grooving to faster bludgeoning to slower, more crushing sections without any of it sounding out of place. As Rapture Comes is a very efficient album in that sense; there's no unnecesary bullshit that draws the songs out for extended periods of time, riffs are never dwelt upon for too long and the album's actually fairly good at holding your attention- or at the very least, if you're familiar with the style, you're never going to feel actively irritated by anything going on here because everything about this has been tried and tested and crafted time and time again.
One thing that's fairly interesting about this album is that it's written like a Swedeath album at its core but seems to be slightly infused with elements from more modern death metal. The album has a very crisp, clean, loudness-war style production and the clarity of everything makes it bear similarity to some of the more blunt, brutish Unique Leader bands (the guitar tone especially) and there's a couple of cases where the band sounds more like the more recently formed bands that take influence from early Swedeath rather than a band that was there from the get-go. The punkish swagger that was very predominant in most early death metal has been completely eschewed at this point, leaving a core of pure, sterile death metal- the attitude has been completely stripped as well. Going back to the production, though, this is one of the very few instances where the Century Media style of making the waveform look like a brick actually helped give the album some energy- the riffs are thrust upon you with a little more force and have a sense of urgency, the vocals sound like they haven't waned too much with age- there's still some power in that rasp of his- and every bit of the drumming can be heard which is good, because now the listener is able to hear the accentuations the drums give the riffs that make completely uncatchy riffs stick in your head somewhat- something that may have not been possible without such high production values.
There's a big downside to that, however- when you put everything at the forefront of the album and fire everything right at the listener's face, all of the album's tricks are going to be revealed pretty fast. This is an album that sound full of ideas and great riffs on the first listen, but its quality deteriorates rapidly over time- on the second or third listen, there's nothing new to discover and the album becomes an exercise in boredom. This wouldn't be a bad thing if the album's surface characteristics were doing something that was worth putting on display, but unfrotunately everything on this album is safe, predictable and familiar, which is the downside of Grave's consistency. Every single last piece of music on here has been extracted, rearranged and repackaged from earlier albums and bands - when you put this album on, even if you have merely a cursory knowledge of the genre you'll feel like you've heard all these songs before. Sure, the album sounds confrontational and urgent on the first listen, but does it really keep up the tension down the road? Hell no. The amount of time you'll be able to endure this album is inversely proportional to the amount of spins you've spun it for. The problem isn't that Grave isn't doing anything new, it's that everything you hear on As Rapture Comes has been done faster, dirtier, or with heavier undertones by both bands that preceded them and bands that have followed.
As Rapture Comes is the is the final nail in the coffin. I'm sure there was a bit of excitement when Grave came back after their six-year delay with their old sound back in 2002, but this album pretty much confirms that Grave has absolutely nothing new to say. It's admirable that Grave has stayed true to their roots and refuse to diverge from the original formula; it's also kind of lame that they've put out yet another safe and predictable release in a genre that's already overcrowded with mediocrity to begin with. If you just can't get enough recycled Swedish death metal riffs stripped of most of the things that allow them to hold your attention over time, then you'll love this album, but you really don't need it, nor do you need the dozens of other albums that accomplish the exact same thing. In a world where death metal's already long evolved past albums like this, As Rapture Comes easily gets lost in the shuffle of the other half-dozen "neo-Grave albums" which all have virtually nothing to set them apart from one another. This is nothing more than an exercise in mediocrity, and quite frankly there's too much damn mediocrity these days.
It's sad but true that those who initiate, define parameters and break down the door are all too often the same ones that disappear too quickly, get forgotten or cursed to lurk in the shadows while those who picked up the gauntlet reap the rewards of sales, glories and ongoing fame.
Despite a formidable role in the laying of the foundations of Swedish death metal through the likes of "Anatomi corposis humani" and "into the grave", this quartet have always seemed to be several steps behind the level their status should have dictated, especially given the band’s intense recording and touring schedule in the early ‘90s.
From the opening strains of the six-minute “Burn” it is clear that the band have moved up a couple of gears since 2004’s “Fiendish regression”. Diverging from several contemporaries, Grave truly excel at mid-paced aggression, while more than holding their own when blasting. It is when the pace is slackened that the firming of the aggression and focus on songwriting are most vividly displayed. What is keenly by “As rapture comes” is the increased move towards and the overall quality of dynamics; the aforementioned “Burn” and cyclical, closing title track both deliver slow brutality. “Battle of Eden” and “By demons bred” offer a textbook example of how to create a flowing work with varying velocities while losing nothing in return.
“Fiendish regression” found Grave building on their 2002 rejuvenation that ended a six-year hiatus; while not a bad all-rounder as an album, in amongst many other bands trying to prove themselves, it was found to ultimately be wanting. In comparison, “As rapture comes” is a wholly and highly involving album that goes a good, long way to getting the name Grave back to where it belongs.
There are bands, speaking of which, for some reasons, I can't be totally objective. They can release weaker albums, but even those I will never say are shite, I just like the band too much to call them like that. One of such bands is Grave. OK, maybe not the best death metal band ever and never as great and vicious as Dismember... but hell, didn't they record classic albums in the past? Sure they did, "You'll Never See" is FUCKIN BRILLIANT and "Into the Grave" not so far behind it. Even the groovier "Soulless", an album which I know not every fan consider as a classic, is in my eyes worthy of blood spilling and guts reaping. Come on, the title song from this LP is one of the best tracks ever in death metal history. But the history of Grave had many turnarounds and problems... Skipping the "Hating Life" period, well, two post resurrection albums were very much OK and worthy having in the collection and definitely good, but they weren't as strong as I would love them to be. "Back From the Grave" had some great songs, but as overall it was bit too monotonous, while "Fiendish Aggression" lacked a spark, something what would put the place ablaze. Then in 2006 time has come for "As Rapture Comes" and well... as an old fan, finally I'm fully satisfied.
I'm not the biggest fan of Mr. Wisniewski's works, so I don't like the front cover (photoshoppy crap, really), but the vinyl looks fine. Copy 328. And most important, when it plays, it makes the earth to quake. From side A to side B I get hit by a strong death metal machine, which works absolutely perfectly. "By Demons Bred" is probably my favourite song, very classic death metal tune with some of the best riffs by this band. Then "Unholy Terror" is probably the fastest song in Grave discography, so damn brutal and fast it is that the energy it unleashes may cause some serious damages. At first I was like: "hmm, does the blast beats really fit to Grave's style?", but sure they do, as this song is not fuckin' Krisiun, it's not fast all the time, there's also room for the characteristic slow paced riffing, what makes it even more brutal. But honestly, I like the whole album likewise. Not a single sound is useless. "Living the Dead Behind" (great epic fragment in the middle of the song!), "Burn", “Autopsied”... Even the surprising cover of Alice In Chains' "Them Bones" fits the album perfectly. Man, I could easily mention the whole tracklist and that's something I wouldn't really do for the two previous albums.
I think one of the reasons for that is the excellent production. Of course the songwriting is also much better than on the previous LPs, these songs simply have something catchy and brutal, and there are no filler riffs. It's like with early Bloodbath albums, who I think have a lot of similarities with "As Rapture Comes" - simple music, but so perfect for headbanging and hmmm... killing ha, ha... But the production gave Grave an extra energy. One of the weak points of "Back From the Grave" and "Fiendish Aggression" particularly was the monotony and the fact that the songs seemed to lack the energy, they were aggressive, but not devastating, sometimes they seemed bit lifeless, ha, soulless even. Also Ola's vocals sounded like he tried to be brutal, but just didn't have the balls of the right size to do that. No such problems on "As Rapture Comes", as his voice is really cool on that album.
All that results in putting my place ablaze. Fuckin' sweet.
I’ve always had a major soft spot for this Swedish Death Metal group because if you look at their discography it contains one quality release after another. Along with Dismember, Unleashed and Entombed, Grave were pioneers of THAT sound unmatched in today’s death metal. You know what I mean, pounding organic drums, beastly bass lines and that truly awesome guitar tone. When the band was put on a hiatus in 1996 we lost a major groundbreaking act but thankfully, the prodigal death metallers returned in 2002, completely refreshed and ready to annihilate anyone who dares to doubt the band’s ability to produce face ripping death metal in the old and true style. “Back from the Grave” was an underrated gem of an album in 2002 and is still a regular on my playlist. 2004’s “Fiendish Aggression” saw the band continue in the same vein, with no let up in melody or aggression. At this point it was quite clear that Grave have no intention of diluting their sound with highly polished and over clinical death metal.
After a very short intro which fades as that awesome guitar tone can be heard filtering through when “Burn” carbonizes your ears with a monstrously heavy and very catchy riff. Each song has a magnificent dense, chainsaw guitar sound with riffs you can actually recall. “Through Eternity” and “By Demons Bred” whiz by in traditional death metal style with sludgy riffs and bass drums that hurtle along without ever becoming chaotic. “Living The Dead Behind” brings something new to the fold as the band is not afraid to decelerate the pace with a thick treacle riff that almost descends into doom metal. Fastest track of all, “Unholy Terror”, careers along like a steam locomotive but is never out of control. The band has increased the use of blasts but has skilfully used it for impact instead of trying to make the album sound heavier. My personal favourite “Battle of Eden” is crushingly heavy but not fast, as the massive dense guitar sound and bruising bass drums and bass pummel you into death metal bliss. “Epic Obliteration” does exactly as the title suggests as it bursts forth with a driving riff and sludgy mid-paced section before finishing off as it started. As usual with the metal scene in recent years we get a cover version and this time, at least, we have a bit of adventure, as the group give “Them Bones” (Alice In Chains) a good old fashioned death metal work over. The original does lend itself to Grave’s chunky guitar sound and this is a good version, albeit made 100 times heavier and speeded up. Any self respecting death metal fan should own something by Grave and here’s a perfect opportunity for anyone new to them to sample the delights of the Swedish style, with a massive guitar sound, a head shaking rhythm section and damn decent guitar solos as well.
Once again Grave changed a lot here in terms of production, but not so much if we talk about the music. The production here is far sharper than the one on the previous album, that was not so Swedish in my humble opinion. Here the guitars sound is a bit closer to the great album …You’ll Never See and the music too is not bad at all. The ingredients are always the same ones in pure new Grave style: doom passages, up tempo and always less groove from the mid 90s albums.
Anyway, an opener like “Burn” is very good to warm up before the whole album. The mid paced parts are well balanced with faster ones in a new found brutality. The length is surprisingly great with almost 7 minutes of death metal that doesn’t result boring. The solos are tremolo pickings in pure old school tradition, filling even more the sound with their violence. “Through Eternity” has the first riff that is a bit strange, modern and dissonant in my opinion. That’s not bad but it turns better during some up tempo/blast beats parts.
The vocals are the classic Swedish furious screams that are not too growl, but evil and heavy enough. The main part in this album is played by the drummer who, by his fury, leads the group from the beginning ‘till the end. He has a good technique and variety, necessary for the band’s new (old) direction. The tempos are faster and they need a drummer that could do also the blast beats. “By Demons Bred” is one of the best songs here with plenty of fast parts and riffs in pure old tradition.
Basically, from now on, the songs always feature fast blast beats tempo (“Unholy Terror”, "Epic Obliteration") with lots of the doom tempos Grave are famous for (“Battle Of Eden”). Surely this is one of the most violent, or better, the most violent album since the beginning of the 90s. All the songs are truly compact and devastating, featuring great riffs and excruciating vocals from hell. It seems that everything is going well fro Grave now, and if this album is a classic consequence, I’m very curios for the next one.
Oops, I forgot…check out the great Alice In Chains cover “Them Bones” made in death metal style. It’s very good and close to the original.
Yep, it seems Grave is getting on the right track. They've embraced the newer trend of blasting precision brutality, but retained enough of those slow and punishing sections that keep necks breaking.
I think I would happily give it an even higher rating if the songwriting was consistent, but here and there it seems like Ola and the gang are in "filler" mode. The lyrics and songtitles also need some work. At first it was fun to have goofy lyrics about mutilated stiffs desecrating tombs, but Grave has been around long enough (and writing lyrics in English the whole time, I might add) to turn a phrase a bit better. I mean, "Living the Dead Behind"? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Maybe its time to get someone else on lyrics duty.
But a bit of filler and bad lyrics are NEVER enough to drive me from the sweet deathfest that is Grave, and there are plenty of highlights on this one. Three that come to mind immediately are the twisting and vicious "Burn," the tempo-shifting "Epic Oblitheration," and an unexpected but awesome cover of AIC's "Them Bones." "Burn" really is the standout - see if you don't get happy growling along to, "...my satisfaction grows as I WATCH THEM DIE!"
So the drumming is definitely more brutal, I believe thanks to the work of a dude from Coercion, and the whole band sounds very tight. I saw them live as a three-piece recently, and while they sounded a little thin (and methinks Ola's vocals are assisted in their evil tone by ye olde studio magicke) they still kicked my ass. Or maybe I just love Grave - that might explain while I'm generally willing to overlook their flaws. Sure enough, I talked with the bassist for a while and left shortly after their set, completely ignoring Dismember. Very cool dude, that bassist.
Anyway Grave, good move down the left hand path. My suggestions are - make a concept album (something evil), spend more time on songwriting for each tune, and have someone else write the lyrics. Ola's put in a lot of work, step aside and hand the bloodstained pen to some other devil worshipper. Oh yeah, nice layout too - Kentucky Fried Christ is delicious.
One of the Swedish Death Metal pioneers is back with another condensate of groove, violence and technicality, in the form of a CD. Formed in 1988, Grave is considered one of the longest running Swedish bands that play this genre.
"As Rapture Comes" is their 7th full-length and offers again what a traditional Death Metal fan is entitled to expect. In addition to the powerful production, the 9 tracks (plus an intro) convince thanks to efficient old-school riffs, well executed solos, and a non-boring drumming. The tempo varies from slow-ish, due to viscous guitars with double-bass in the background, to hyperspeed blastings (like in the neck breaker "Epic Obliteration"). Grave are not beginner on the matter, far from it, and they are not afraid to show it.
The four sexy guys are not going to write pop ballads so soon. Just listen to the groovy "Through Eternity" or the nice Alice In Chains cover "Them Bones" and I'm sure you will be convinced. No superfluous keyboards or sample, talented musicians, a homogeneous album and a good portion of skilled brutality: that's what I call Death Metal!
originally written for http://www.mfgmetal.co.nr