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Grave, one of the stalwarts of classic old-school Swedish Death Metal are back, returning with their 8th studio album, appropriately titled "Dominion VIII". If you read this not being familiar with the stylistic accuracies of Grave, let me say that they are in my mind almost the perfect definition of 'old-school Death Metal'. This doesn't necessarily mean I think they are one of the greatest DM bands of all time, although many would argue they are, but their sound is so uncompromisingly old, even 20 years after they formed. Their riff structure and progression is generally at the simpler end of the spectrum; the drumming is solid and hammering but never fast; the guitars are heavy, dissonant and down-tuned; and hoarse vocals sing tales of death, darkness and anti-religious sentiment. I hope fans of newer flag-bearers such as Job For A Cowboy are interested to read on and see where their roots lie...
The recipe for "Dominion VIII" is largely unchanged from Grave's classic 1991 "Into The Grave", though the band did flirt with somewhat softer territory in the middle of their career. The majority of songs tend to be of a mid-length territory, around 3.5 - 5 minutes, and feature largely similar song structures, differing in the key riffs of the song and other moments for comparisons such as bridges and the locations of solos. As such, picking highlight moments or songs is difficult as Grave are very much an 'album band' - listening to one song doesn't reveal the guilty pleasure of appreciating something as resolutely defiant as this. If pushed though some of the best moments can be found in "Bloodpath", the video for which I posted here recently, a Death Metal sibling of Slayer of a song that epitomises the crunchy Entombed/Dismember guitar sound favoured by Grave, and "Dark Signs", slower and more Unleashed-like in it's tempo which like every other feels built for headbanging in the live environment. Grave proves that good doesn't have to mean complicated!
I think anyone reading this far down is going to get the picture by now: chances are if you have any passion for DM you'll appreciate Grave, if not Grave will probably just bore you. The legions of 'new old-school' DM bands, often formed in retaliation to the new more clinical form of DM, such as Kaamos, Insision and Dead Congregation owe a massive debt to the likes of Grave and dictate that they should be heard. Commendably solid; re-assuringly unprogressive, Grave are back ladies and germs.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
Grave it seems is the Suffocation of the Swedish old-school European death metal bands, with their strength on slow, grinding riffs as great big breakdowns. It’s surprising how well those big meaty hooks work in those mostly mid-paced to quick/mid-paced songs, as nothing really ever gets very quick.
“Dominion VIII” also finds itself trodden down in a morass of sludge sometimes (in a negative sense) due to the fact that the songs never do really go that fast to help differentiate themselves from one another. The tracks all jump tempos, and never hit anything at all melodic to give you a breather. The production and playing are both on the raw side, with the mix heavy on the bass with not a lot of high end, making the action a bit difficult to hear. The concept of keeping the production just a slight bit raw, as well as the playing is actually a good one, conjuring images of the old-school underground in 90’s while holding in the bands overall experience.
Still very fun though, if a bit stuck fighting in the muck.
Originally posted at www.waytooloud.com
Grave? What’s Grave? Aren’t they some death metal band from Sweden that somehow missed all the exposure groups like Dismember obtained way back in time? Yes, yes, and double-yes. In fact, these guys are hardly known by most newcomers and are typically shoved with obscure bands. After “Dominion VIII,” I’m left wondering why. Ironically, they’ve become both a household name to their fans and an under-the-radar sensation since 1988 while leaving no trail of pure retardation behind. Acting upon consistency, “Dominion VIII” demolishes anything looking weak, as it appropriately accepts intelligence and originality; a combo we hardly see anymore. There’s no pussy-footing here; just child-murdering death metal that sounds violent, forces a sore neck, and scares non-metal individuals terminally.
Like an ice cream truck, Grave slowly approaches hungry mortals until their van stops suddenly; the tension soon turns into a window open very leisurely. While standing in shock, these chaotic Swedes begin dumping fatal amounts of rapid riffs, stabbing drumming, and growls lower than Paris Hilton’s intelligence quotient upon your flaccid eardrums, not to mention in accurate excellence. Grave also expels their icy contents under rampaging speed, as seen by those inhuman riffs and mind-fucking percussion played at extreme intervals of face-peeling madness; that’s how I like my death metal. It’s so fast, that I’ve actually aged back to an adolescent. No joke.
However, I’m very motivated to clarify this release hardly walks with death metal’s supposed rules; indeed, Grave is only doing things the way they want to. For example, nobody put a gun to some asshole’s head and demanded slow musical sections and haunting distortion that reeks of doom influence, but it’s still wonderfully active on all these tracks anyway. Also, most of these anthems reach into longer durations while nodding toward clean guitars and experimental soloing among other atypical notions, making variety a common resident above all else. Not to mention they perform such functions dangerously well, so where’s the problem? Simple answer: there is none.
“Dominion VIII” was the first record I’ve ever heard from Grave, and its impression led me to spend several dollars on their remaining discography; it’s got a charm that ironically drains your money! Seriously though, there’s nothing negative to be said here at any perspective, and these unique offerings are flowing with originality and unstoppable force, even after two decades of corpse-raping madness sprouting from the same Swedish fountain, which shows these guys are one of death metal’s finest elites to ever carry its axes. This annihilating montage can buzz any death metal addiction, so grab a shovel and dig up the eighth victim in Grave’s graveyard without hesitation.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
I told you so. I told you in the previous reviews for Grave! Fiendish Regression and, in bigger parts, As Rapture Comes, showed a re-found sense of good songwriting and old school brutality that Grave had to be in their sound to change direction, to come out from that groove menace that was destroying their music. Those albums featured a new sense of violence and malevolence they completely lost in the mid 90s albums, in my opinion. These albums were far too monotonous and with a complete loss of speed and violent parts; but with this great (also for the sense of surprise it gave to me) Dominion VIII (what a name for a great music comeback), those brutal parts are back to enjoy the old school fans like me.
If Dismember are always a pleasant confirm in this brutal metal, the Grave’s return is unbelievable surprising and welcome. You know that sense of pure happiness for a band that returned to the original sound after a period of pure musical sloppiness. To start, again the production is different from the other albums, even from As Rapture Comes. This one is far closer to the original Grave sound they had in 1991! Yes, the year of those masterpiece called “Into The Grave”. It’s truly gloomy and heavy.
The first song is “A World In Darkness”. The first long note is sufficient to introduce us in a sudden long series of up tempo. The guitars now are truly dark and violent with that rotten/doom sound. The vocals are as always in pure Swedish not excessive growls. The more mid paced parts are well balanced with fast restarts and pure tremolo picks solos in classic thrash style. The first song already made me jump on the chair and it’s not the only fast one, because after the mid paced introduction, “Fallen (Angel Son)” is even faster!
The sequence “Stained By Hate”, “Bloodpath”, and the fucking awesome “Annihilated Gods” (this last one is the highlight in my opinion) destroys everything with an awesome brutal assault of gore riffs and destructive drum work. “Annihilated Gods” could fit perfectly in their debut album for the rotten intro and the following “death metal ignorance” palm muting rotting assault. The vocals are simply sick and forget completely those horrible groove parts we could find in the past.
“Sinners Lust” doesn’t want to slow down continuing on the long road to the most pure death metal form. The down tempos that we can find in each songs now are more in “…You’ll Never See” style, mostly done by picking just one single note to create a terribly dark sound. The last two songs are more mid paced with lots always sudden up tempo fragments inside not to bore the listeners. Anyway those mid paced parts are far better than in the past.
Grave are back, folks! It’s not another “Into the Grave” but those who were waiting for another death metal return won’t be disappointed. Let the massacre begins.