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I think many people have a tendency to overlook albums based around the time period they were released in, rather than the quality of the music contained within. Bands like Necrophobic and Napalm Death are still churning out some of their best stuff, despite constant assurances from people that these bands peaked in the early 90's and have not been anything special since...well, quite frankly that's bullshit. Albums like "Burial Ground" prove that that is bullshit. If a band like Grave can exist for over 20 years and still be churning out tunes with this much passion and feeling, it says a whole lot about their dedication to their craft, and even if they aren't in their "golden age" anymore, as fans of death metal it should be our duty to stick by them and respect them for being true to themselves rather than true to the path that other bands would take nowadays. While what Grave brings may be simple and to the point, you really get what you come for, and that's something that should be just as important as being innovative.
I'll admit that I'm not terribly familiar with Grave. Before buying this CD I had heard only two songs by the band that really struck a chord with me, and those were "Bloodpath" from their "Domination VIII" album, and the title track to "Soulless". One day, however, I found myself looming through my local record store, trying to find something to buy, and being in the mood for some simple, badass death fucking metal, my eyes fell on this little monster. It was somewhat expensive (16.99), but eventually I decided I might as well buy it, and I'm really glad I did, because the music on this CD is top-notch. With awesome cover art, a brutal production job, and killer riffs, this is just about perfectly executed death metal, and if this is the quality of material Grave fans have become accustomed to...where the hell have I been all this time??
What people like me will enjoy about this album is that Grave doesn't ever try to step outside what they are good at. There are elements of thrash metal in the riffs of the album highlight "Outcast", and I personally got a vague black metal vibe from the track "Bloodtrail" (the opening to this track in particular is very mid-paced and atmospheric, similar perhaps to Aeternus or even "The Shadowthrone" by Satyricon), but overall this band sticks to it's guns, and does it well. One of the best songs on this album is "Semblance in Black", a song which makes use of simple features...a pounding thrash beat and catchy, tremelo-picked riff, but the band makes so much out of it simply because of the fury with which they play it. As well, who could deny the eerie, undeniably evil intro (and main riff) to "Ridden with Belief", and ends with a bang (quite literally!)? That song alone should be proof enough that all the claims of this band being "past their prime" are totally untrue...but the real crowning jewel in that department is the epic, 7-minute closer, simply called "Burial Ground". This song is a slow, brooding monster of a track which features lyrics detailing a familiar, but nonetheless interesting concept, and it's really quite insane that a band so old could still be capable of pulling off something like this. It's not overdone, and yet nothing feels unchecked...and once again, the intro to this song really sets the atmosphere of waking up alone, covered in blood, in a moon-lit graveyard with no recollection of the past...
Another thing I would like to point out that is really great about this album is the drumming...talk about a "no frills" approach! This guy has a great sounding snare, but what is really striking about his playing is that it is totally rooted in the old school style of drumming...the people of today forget that part of what made bands like Entombed, Obituary, Autopsy, Death, etc., so amazing and so influential, was the drumming, and the style of drumming that they used! I hear people nowadays complaining that there aren't enough blast beats on the new Cannibal Corpse record...pfft! I really don't want to go into the obligatory "and all the bands today are just bunch of blast beats blah blah blah" rant that fans of old school metal always seem to go into when talking about things like this, but listen to a lot of these new bands, and then listen to old school bands like Asphyx, Bolt Thrower, Entombed, Autopsy, etc. and tell me that it's not a completely different approach! It's nice to see a band that sticks by the book of death fucking metal, and still appreciates that this kind of drumming is essential to the overall sound.
There is nothing wrong with this album. I can't think of a single thing I'd change if I had the chance to do so, but I feel that the rating of a "90" fits how I feel about this album. I would suggest that anyone who thought Grave were past their prime, or hadn't put out a great album in 20 years, should check this album out, because they would probably like it very much. I haven't heard their supposed "magnum opus", "Into the Grave" album (yet), and it could very well be possible that at some point this band hit a low point in quality and I just haven't heard it (yet), but what is definitely true is that regardless of their past, which I am still ignorant of...in 2010 they put out a fucking awesome album called "Burial Ground", and it was this album that made me a fan of the band.
Grave has always had a weird position in the Swedish death metal echelon despite the faction's unblemished loyalty among death metal legions worldwide. Ola Lindgren was never able to get the attention that groups like At The Gates, Entombed, or Dismember obtained, yet the Grave leader has carried on and made his creation one of the most respectable bands from Sweden. "Burial Ground" continues a trend often found throughout the band's discography; it does nothing to avoid the massive levels of guitar distortion and buzz-sawing chunkiness which have been signature traits of Grave's evolution since the monster's unearthing. I suppose it’s significant to mention some might find the boiling, rotten slaughter a bit tedious or expected, yet “Burial Ground” still has a degree of appeal that hurdles itself past the dire side of abusing a blueprint into the ground.
"Burial Ground" is a proper response to the band's "Dominion VIII" release, which showcased ripping buzz-saw riffs, plummeting heaviness, slow-roasted doom sections, and other trademarks found throughout Grave's discography; "Burial Ground" is really no different. Grave, of course, represents the epitome of Swedish death metal, as the band has become a vital representation of its incarnation from the constant portrayal of the scene's mannerisms: fiery riffs, chopping distortion, abusive percussion, shattering doom sections, and red-meat production. In Grave's case, this is the world of "Burial Ground" from point A to point B. Ola Lindgren's acidic vocals are still lower than the Westboro Baptist Church's credibility; the band remains proud of doom numbers like the seven-minute title track; and you can expect riotous solos that reek of Slayer worship ...check, check, and check.
That isn't to go without saying Grave's equation has a devilish charm attached to it that subsides vehemently within "Burial Ground," however. "Semblance in Black" and "Dismembered Mind" remind the listener what mauling death is supposed to be: sliced picking drenched in Swedish blood and butchering heaviness smashed into an evil juxtaposition of gore. Something like "Bloodtrial" defines brutality in death metal; those slowed sections bang like thunder, not to mention Karl Sanders' guest lead is maniacally suited for the attack. And just as a side note, "Sexual Mutilation" is actually a rerecording of a demo song that never appeared on a future release until now, and it rightful sounds technical, chaotic, and definitely Grave. It may not be the most individualistic record ever, but Grave can never screw up this sound even though they've made a career out of repeating their formula over and over again. I guess the Grave will always have the goods.
With Grave, you always know what you're getting into; "Burial Ground" is a carbon copy of everything nasty and dirty that made this crew so fun in the first place. And as I said, there is no colorful experimentation or otherworldly design that changes Grave's genetics within "Burial Ground," so don't think the group is flying across the musical spectrum with progressive elements or uncharacteristic qualities. Instead, embrace the album for what it is: filthy, maggot-infested death metal. "Burial Ground" is far from revolutionary and not on the same level as the band's "Into the Grave" record or newer smashes like "Dominion VIII", but it has the riffs and might to keep death metal fans banging their heads for listens to come.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
There’s a strange phenomenon afoot in the metal world, if a band stays true to their original recipe like a good piece of Colonel Sanders chicken, then there is always the dreaded tag, “nothing new”. If they experiment or change their recipe they are often shunned like “new Coke”, or worse they're called sell outs. While Grave have stayed true to their roots since their inception on the Swedish Island of Gotland, at least for the most part with maybe the exception of Soulless, they often fall under the category of “Nothing new found here” and sometimes suffer the consequences of that tag.
I’ll be the first admit that Burial Ground really doesn’t uncover any fresh earth, and the bodies buried there in have been in the ground for at least 2 ½ decades, but it’s the menacing old school production, anger and hatred thrown into that wonderful Swedish Death Metal cocktail blender that again delivers that wonderful Buzzsaw shake. So for fans craving something a little heavier out of Sweden than Gothenburg and want to relive the glory days of Stockholm this album really delivers and deserves respect.
So why such a good score if there’s nothing new and ground breaking here? Well boys and girls, that is because Ola Lindgren and company have come back once again with their winning formula and one heck of a heavy slab of Death Metal. Grave have always had the ability of writing albums that were extremely bass heavy throughout the mix, even in their humble beginnings. Burial Ground which must have been recorded on a shoe string budget, but sounds wonderfully deep, warm and just a little fuzzy compared to Dominion VIII, it just wants to destroy your speakers without remorse, then fornicate your significant other and then come back to hang out and drink all of your booze for the rest of the night.
From the opener “Liberation”, Grave’s simple yet effective style of Death Metal should turn the avid death metal listener into a head banging maniac. If you are not head banging and trying to destroy what remains of your living room from the initial visit by the time “Semblance in Black” oozes out of your speakers like a thick sludgy tar than please check yourself into a Geriatrics facility or take up listening to another form of music. “Dismembered Mind” (my personal fav here), co written by none other than friend of the band and twisted ring leader of Dismember/ Murder Squad Matti Karki, has a truly dark and lunatic vibe to it. It also delivers the best buzzing guitars found here and one hell of killer solo by Ola Lindgren. Later on Karl Sanders of Nile makes a stop to play some sick riffs on Bloodtrail, another killer track on the album. There’s a few mid tempo tracks like Conqueror and Outcast that show off the wonderful groove Grave sometimes incorporate into their mix and will keep your head moving.
Another treat for long time fans of the band is another re-recording of one of their early demo songs, “Sexual Mutilation”, something they have been doing for a while now beginning with “Autopsied” on Fiendish Regression. The album closes on a fantastic note with the crushing doom inspired track Burial Ground that delivers the final knockout punch.
In closing if you like your metal in the vein of the original Stockholm sound or enjoy the simplistic crunchiness of Autopsy or the heavy doom laden riffs of Asphyx then this new Grave album comes highly recommended. But then again if you actually like the aforementioned bands you already own this fucking album anyway. And to those who don’t and want something a little different than the cold technical wankery of so many of today’s DM bands, go lift 15-20 dollars out of your moms purse and buy this fucker now. It will teach you to how really bang your head again and may just snap your neck.
Though it's been some time since anything put forth by this Swedish mainstay has exhumed me from a general lack of interest, I'll admit the band have been consistently churning out some of the more loyal and authentic death metal in their scene since their Back from the Grave revival effort. Burial Ground continues this process, with a filthy production courtesy of the band itself, and I'd honestly say this is a heavier effort than a lot of the 'wannabe' Swedish retro bands squatting outside the sepulcher. Unfortunately, it lacks a wealth of good songwriting, and thus its ultimate destiny is likely to be some forgettable yet crushing footnote.
There is some promise from the first half of the album, once you get beyond the opener "Liberation", a well meaning but utterly riffless opener that recalls the days of yore, Left Hand Path and You'll Never See and all those grave goodies. Okay, there are actual riffs in the song, they're simply average. "Semblance in Black" continues the faster pace, but its churning, soil parting rhythms are at least a little more striking. "Dismembered Mind" is one of the better tracks here, with slow, weighty rhythms that make for a natural junction between Bolt Thrower and Dismember. The opening segment to "Ridden with Belief" becomes slower still, but picks up into a pretty familiar, average riff before a very Pestilence (Consuming Impulse) bridge of chords, a vibe that continues into the following "Conqueror".
By the time the latter half arrives, we're already waist deep in the all too familiar, too trampled genre of Swedish death metal, though "Outcast" and "Sexual Mutilation" attempt to snap up the attention with some of the fastest rhythms on the disc. Sadly, these riffs don't really pan out too well. "Bloodtrail" squanders a punishing, melodic charge rhythm by doing very little with the note patterns, except breaking into a very generic groove. "Burial Ground" itself is the lengthy climax, beyond 7 minutes, slower and reminiscent of Asphyx. A few decent moments of doom atmosphere half way through there, but the riffs inevitably become quite dull.
There is nothing remotely offensive about this 9th full-length, but I expect a little more out of such a seasoned veteran. Grave are one of the longest survival of the old guard of Swedish death metal, and I feel like something's missing. A few of the riffs land and land hard, the rest just float about the crematorium, like the last ushers picked for the funeral home's weekend volleyball team, lacking much excitement or physical ability. It feels like a situation where they've got a great cover art, a really dirty, meaty tone, and then just sort of record whatever naturally comes to mind, which sounds a little too derivative of themselves and by this point, hundreds of other bands performing such a similar style.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll stay it until my dying day…I’m not a big death metal guy. That’s bad news when it comes to newer death metal groups I’ll have the misfortune of listening to, but I try to evoke respect where respect is due when it comes to the old-timers of the genre. In the European world there was, at one time, a fine how-do-ya-do group called GRAVE who knocked ‘em dead for years before a temporary split-up and subsequent revival wherein death by way of metal came storming from their hands.
So with this new album, would I be able to enjoy it’s violent nature?
This here new GRAVE album is, as the title suggests, just as ugly as its album name, and just as intense. One of the biggest problems I’ve always had with death metal is, and I’m sure many a DM fan would point this out as me "not getting it", the whole atonal tendency. It’s hard for me, as a regular-ass music fan, to get into most death metal if I can’t find any real music to connect with, but that’s not really an issue with the new GRAVE album. This whole debacle eschews the noise of others of their ilk in favor for a more thrashy riff-fest replete with scratchy guitars, straight-forward and no-bullshit arrangements, blurry bass thumps, punishing drum blasts and monstrous growls that paint a dripping black abyss onto the canvas of reality that go from the brutal aspects to more groove-laden madness. Ugly for the sake of being ugly, GRAVE gives the listener a 9-point lesson in truncated carnage like a band that totally knows what they’re doing, shining brightest by the likes of "Semblance in Black", "Dismembered Mind" and "Bloodtrail", where the cavalcade of riffs buries any and all alive. Like ANY good death metal album.
So in the end I liked this. Goes to show that not all death metal has to be a blinding wall of noise, and that even a more simpler approach can do far more wonders than any could perceive. Well done.