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The Swedish death metal sound has always been incredibly unique. The 'buzzsaw' tone heard on classic releases like “Left Hand Path” from Entombed, “Like An Everflowing Stream” from Dismember or more importantly “Into the Grave” by Grave. These were among the more unique records heard at the time. There was no convoluted formula to follow, it was all about the aggression, the guttural roar of the vocals immense heaviness due in part to unique sound encompassed in these bands. While Entombed and Dismember went in separate directions from their roots; Grave stayed true to their original purpose. Sure there have been line up changes since “Into The Grave”, they may have slowed down on one or two records (Looking at you Soulless) but the sound has always been there and “Endless Procession of Souls” is no different. If you were to weaken the production a little and show it to someone with no knowledge of this album then it would get away with being classified as an old school record such is the intensity and sound Grave managed to conjure up in this record. A true classic.
The album starts off with a 30 second intro of just guitar playing, pretty much just as simple as an intro can be but the way it melts into the start of the first song "Amongst The Marble and the Dead" is frighteningly heavy. There is no sound gap between the two tracks, your ears don't have time to adjust from one to another. All of a sudden your ears are blasted with that classic 'buzzsaw' sound. It's a very strong start to the album, as if a statement of intent from the band, heavy from the start and heavy until finish.
If you're familiar with Grave then this record won't shock you too much, all the familiar tricks of the trade are here. Gloomy slow breakdowns, uncomplicated but pure heavy riffing and as mentioned the 'buzzsaw tone'. The production on this record is of a 2012 standard. All the instruments are very well mixed, nothing stands out, just a good job overall. The overall sound is very raw when compared to certain records that were released in 2012 for example “At The Gates of Sethu” by Nile but comparing it to “Into The Grave” the debut it a much better mixed album but without compromising the classic Swedish sound. The vocals of Ola Lindgren sound like a man in deep agony, the anguished sound of his vocals and the gritty roar really helps set off just how heavy this album is and what kind of experience you're in for, how he manages to do these vocals is anyones guess because it would tear up the throat of a lesser man.
"Disembodied Steps" is by far the standout track on this supremely good album. There is no love lost and no time to adjust when this song hits you it blasts your face off, the intro riff takes you by surprise and starts the song off by telling you a) we don't mess around by building up our song, we're gonna blast your face off from the first second on b) oh and guess what this song gets heavier. Once the intro riff has run it's course which encompasses a good 45 seconds the song goes straight into over drive a faster but equally heavy riff takes over and the guttural vocals kick in, there is nothing too complicated here. Accomplished guitar work, standard death metal drumming but the way it all comes together makes this band stand out, especially on this track. The standard Grave breakdown riff kicks in around the 3:20 mark with Ola Lindgren screaming "Eternity", this particular section is really evil the riff plods along at a pretty slow pace. Then like a man from a mental asylum Ola Lindgren roars what are the finest lyrics on the album;
Driven to the breaking point
Is it just my loneliness fuckin' with my mind?
Centuries of hate trapped inside these walls
Living death claiming their rights
Reading them probably doesn't do it justice but the way it all comes together in a wholly evil way and then followed by two melodic solos before kicking back into the chorus to end the song finishes this song in a really good way.
The final track “EPoS” or “Endless Procession of Souls” the title track is a bit of uncharted territory for Grave this song is very different from every other song on the album. No it doesn't have a different sound from the rest of the album nor does Ola use clean vocals but it is different rest assured it is. First off the running time of nearly 8 minutes is not typical of Grave. Also this song tries to create a more epic feel to it rather than pure heaviness, it is still heavy don't worry. This song has a more progressive feel to it, lots of time changes throughout slows down and speeds up as it progresses. The first part of the song is slower and dark feeling, anguished sounding vocals and dark riffs but after the 5th minute the song takes off in a more speedy direction for one minute and promptly slows down into the previous section's darker chorus slowly fading out until the album finishes. A real proper album finisher, it reminds me a lot of “In Their Darkened Shrines” by Nile but on a smaller scale. It has the same affect, it is placed where it is to slowly finish the album and the experience of this utterly brilliant record.
One thing I learned from this album is that no amount of blast beats or indecipherable vocals can make up for pure heaviness. Grave shows that you can be stupidly heavy without going ridiculously fast and Ola Lindgren sounds like a demon from hell yet remains pretty understandable. This album took me by a huge surprise because while “Burial Ground” their previous release was a good release it wasn't really anything special. “Endless Procession of Souls” is among Grave's best albums and stands above a lot of records today that are released. It is pure heaviness without the overcomplicated technicalness of some of the newer bands. The real standout tracks are "Disembodied Steps", "Passion of the Weak", "Plague of Nations" and "EPoS" but it's hard not to enjoy this whole album.
With Dismember recently calling it a day, Entombed only managing to shit out one re-recorded track in the past half decade, and every third and fourth tier old school death metal band on the planet reuniting or being reissued (or both)for no apparent reason, now is the time for Grave to reassert themselves as the genre kingpins they’ve always been. The Swedish band has had a solid run since coming back from the, err, grave back in 2002 with Back from the Grave, releasing albums and touring on a consistent basis, but having yet to release a truly standout album in the vein of their early nineties material. Endless Procession of Souls, Grave’s sixth album since re-entering the death metal arena after a six-year layoff and tenth album overall, is the classic-sounding recording fans of the ol’ Scandinavian blood ‘n’ guts have been waiting for.
Guitarist/vocalist Ola Lindgren recently stated that Grave has never employed the Boss HM-2 distortion pedal that is allegedly responsible for the Swedish DM sound, but that doesn’t stop Endless Procession of Souls from cutting like a buzzsaw; I think it might have more to do with something in the water over in Sweden than any particular stomp-box. Of course, the fact that Lindgren has been doing this since 1988 probably doesn’t hurt matters; no doubt the deep grooves and shit-kicking beats found on tracks such as “Encountering the Divine” and “Flesh Epistle” are more than second nature by now.
Lindgren is the sole original member of Grave and has surrounded himself with yet another almost brand new lineup for album number ten, but this matters little; the band is clearly as crushing and cohesive a unit now as ever. Sure, there will always be some denim vest-clad twits pining for the bygone days of Into the Grave and You’ll Never See, but anyone not afflicted with debilitating old school-itis will quickly take note of the fact that Grave sounds positively ripping and re-invigorated on tracks such as ”Amongst Marble and the Dead” “Winds of Chains” and “Perimortem.” Indeed, the the saw-toothed, bone-breaking bludgeon that typifies the band’s approach on Endless Procession of Souls makes it more than clear that Grave are still hungry, thanks to this injection of fresh blood.
These are strange times we live in when it comes to death metal. Between the legions of new-jack bands attempting a wholesale rip-off of Into the Grave, Left Hand Path and Like an Everflowing Stream, as well as the aforementioned hordes of bands that could barely get their shit together long enough to release a crappy demo back in 1991 reuniting and being hailed as conquering heroes (if there’s one thing metal loves, it’s revisionist history), it’s easy to forget that some of death metal’s true legends never really went away. Grave is one of those legends, and with Endless Procession of Souls, they’ve provided us with a more than solid reminder of their dedication and perseverance.
Originally written for That's How Kids Die.com
Grave, one of the central pillars of the original Swedish death metal movement, have been cranking out records for over two decades. While Entombed have strayed from the path and Dismember have disbanded, Grave have stoutly carried on through the years. This summer saw their newest release, Endless Procession of Souls.
Anybody passingly familiar with Swedish death metal knows exactly what Grave sound like. If not from Grave themselves, then from one of the hundreds of clones wandering the metal world these days. Crunchy, compelling, monumentally heavy guitar riffs plow forward, backed by strong drumming and a beefy bottom end. The bellowed vocals are pretty standard fare, strong and aggressive but not particularly unique. Grave have always been a bit slower and doomier than their closest Swedish counterparts, and their music is often at its heaviest in the slowly churning sections of their songs where the low end can really come into play.
The reason why I've spent all my time so far just talking about how Grave sound in general is that if you understand all that then you understand exactly how this specific album sounds. It's a perfectly solid release, and I find it quite enjoyable. It doesn't break any new ground, though, so it's basically just another good solid Grave album that sounds just like you'd expect. When a band has been around this long, the only way for a new album to really stand out is either by doing something radically new, or by elevating the pre-existing formula to a new level. The latter has recently worked well for other classic acts like Unleashed and Vader, and like those bands Grave exists today as the vessel for its vocalist and sole original member. Unfortunately, unlike those bands, Grave's Ola Lindgren just wasn't able to tap into whatever mystical force has breathed renewed potency into Johnny Hedlund and Peter.
None of this is to say that there's anything bad or wrong in the new album. It's a strong, entertaining release that won't disappoint any fans and serves as another valid entry in the band's lengthy catalog of good death metal records. It just didn't make me sit up and take notice the way some other old masters have with their recent releases.
(Originally posted on: http://beardsetc.blogspot.com)
I guess that being a cult and classic band, one of the originators of the whole musical movement – which in this case is Swedish death metal – must be pretty hard. Everyone watches you, some hoping that you finally will deliver a music, which will equal your early outputs – because everyone will always say that your first LP, sometimes the second one, is the best. And some will keep the fingers crossed for the reasons known just to them that you’ll fail, so they can put a crap towards you on internet forums or whatever and moan how great the scene was 20 years ago and now the bands only vulture on their old heritage, recording some shit, which is not worth a damn penny. Obviously the real fans will stay with their favourite bands, despite their mistakes and some temporary failures and also despite the fashions, which come and go like the seasons. Some you win, some you lose, as they say. So, it must be quite stressful life, for people like Ola Lindgren, who keeps playing under the cult name of Grave for almost 25 years now. There were killer releases in the beginning (“Into the Grave”, “You’ll Never See…”), there were some mistakes (“Hating Life”)… Line up changes happened also, most important being the departure of the early vocalist / bassist Jörgen Sandström, who in 1996 joined Entombed. Such things will always have a big impact on the fans, who will expect their favourite idols to never fail. But once Grave came back with “Back From the Grave” LP things had its ups and downs in my opinion. This album, as well as “Fiendish Regression” were OK, but more mediocre. Then happened also some much better releases, my favourite being “As Rapture Comes”, which added a lot of fuel and fire into the Grave’s skeleton. And albums “Dominion VIII” and “Burial Ground” were also very good and satisfying to the fans. But I am very, very glad to see and hear that it seems like Grave have unexpectedly really got strong now and all of a sudden putted out an album, which I think belongs to the best ones, which Lindgren had ever recorded!!!
Fuck yeah, you read it right. Now, 21 years after the release of fundamental “Into the Grave” we have “Endless Procession of Souls” and I feel like this is a true Grave, stronger ever since the release of “You’ll Never See” and definitely this newest effort belongs to my top three of all of Grave’s releases!!!! And I don’t need to mention I guess, which other LPs I like most hehe. I am really, really surprised that Grave managed to compose and complete such a killer and wonderful album. Of course I kept collecting all their vinyls, they never really failed me much (except the “Hating Life”, which remains the only album, which I don’t have nowadays in my collection), but even through such “Burial Ground” was really good and fun to listen to, I didn’t feel the thrills while listening to it just as when I listened to the early albums for the first time. Meanwhile something like that happened once I played “Endless Procession of Souls”. It was like “what the fuck????”, can it be really so good? Yeah it can!
Right from the very first sound I felt completely massacred by the brilliance of this album. Really, it has everything what good Grave LP should have, but written in some of the best ways. Each track on “Endless Procession of Souls” is just killer, their riffs are memorable, but heavy, brutal and massive, in some mysterious way Old Lindgren and his comrades managed to write absolutely stunning songs, which are equally good as those from their early efforts. No bullshit, no time for fillers, just crushing death metal, straight ahead, punching you in the face and ripping your guts out. And those excellent riffs – some of them are almost doomy and some are so much influenced by Celtic Frost (“Flesh Epistle”), but all in all you can clearly hear that this is Grave. The style of this band plus the characteristic vocals of Ola are unique and one of a kind. I cannot even mention, which songs are those, which I like most, as the whole album is just superb. I mean, the same feeling I had when I was listening to the two recent Asphyx albums – they also are just amazingly good and include some of the best pieces, which this Dutch band has composed, and I hardly am able to pick up my favourites, as everything sounds so damn good. I have the same feeling, when I shred my guts with “Endless Procession of Souls”. OK, maybe “Amongst Marble and the Dead”, “Epos” and “Disembodied Steps” would be especially gut ripping and crushing bits. But as I said, Grave delivered a complete, perfect album.
And on top of everything I must also mention how great the sound of “Endless Procession of Souls” is. The production, which Lindgren did, is just amazing, very energetic, very heavy, but also very organic and old school. It makes every riff sound like a bulldozer! And also the artwork for the LP is just fantastic. It’s creepy, it’s full of ghouls and other monsters… I love it. It looks just stunning on the gatefold LP!!!!!!!!!!!! And if I mention the vinyl, then I must add that it includes a bonus LP, with six covers tunes (Voivod, Anthrax, Celtic Frost, Alice In Chains, St.Vitus, Asphyx). I was kinda sceptic about it, especially as some of these covers – like Alice In Chains’ – has already appeared on the previous LPs, but anyway it’s always great to get something extra, don’t you think? The quality of those covers varies; some I like (Asphyx), some not really (Anthrax), but that may be due to the fact that I’m not a fan of some of these bands. And also I don’t like Celtic Frost’s cover, “Mesmerized”, as I’m not a fan of “Into the Pandemonium” and those clean vocals just don’t convince me. From the other hand to hear “Them Bones” with death metal growls sounds truly interesting and I’m into it fully.
So, get this LP now, kneel before Grave, because once Dismember is gone, Grave are the true masters of the Swedish death metal!!!!!!!!! And with such amazing LPs as “Endless Procession of Souls” there’s no competition for them. Together with Asphyx and Bolt Thrower they are the best classic death metal band in Europe, no doubt! 666!
Standout tracks: “Amongst Marble and the Dead”, “Epos” and “Disembodied Steps”
Ah good old Grave, what's not to love about them? They have been bashing their brand of no holds bared straight up style of death metal since the early days. And that's why the death metal community loves them, no pretension, no bullshit straight up crushing death metal. And with their new release Grave are firing on all cylinders here, showcasing an impressive array of dynamics all structured superbly with interesting compositions and highly memorable riff work. From the d-beat "ofta ofta" trem riffs we all know and love to morbid doom ridden slow dirges. The opening song shows what Grave are doing here with these ideas on display. The mid section in particular reminding me of "Choke on It" off Death's Leprosy album.
Ola Lindgren has to be mentioned for a superb job on the production of this album. It is easily one of the finest production jobs I have heard on a modern day death metal album. It has that old school production vibe to the mix but with a modern clean and crispness to it creating that perfect middle ground. This backs up the riffs superbly and the drum sound works so well. When Grave up the tempo and go into d-beat galore territory it really crushes you into submission.
"Passion of the Weak" was the first song Grave released before the album and it really grabbed my attention on first listen which created hype and anticipation for this release. The song in question actually has some of the most memorable riffs on the album, with a quality chorus riff backed up with some great vocal lines adding to the memorability.
The entire band are on form here and Grave have upped their game musically here. With guitar harmonies and more complex structures with varied dynamics, harmonized guitar riffs that really please the reviewers ears and some chaotic leads that are used tastefully and with a mature amount of restraint. Grave have delivered what will more than likely by my death metal album of the year. If there is any criticism to be had it is that there are some riffs that do not hit as hard as the rest of the album. The opening riff of "Disembodied Steps" bars on generic and "Flesh Epistle" takes a while to get going but this is nit picking to a certain extent.
There is nothing really more to say about this release to be honest and most of the songs are in the same vein as each other however extra credit to the band for creating an almost 8 minute epic closer which I think is a really cool move from Grave and showcasing a new side to the band after all these years.
If I had to pick highlights they would have to be the opener "Amongst Marble and Dead" with its crushing d - beat and grotesque mid section. "Passion of the Weak" for its highly memorable riffs and finally "Perimortem" with a quality opening riff packing a lot of bangabillity and a underlying thrash aesthetic.
Fans of straight up death metal are going to eat this up for breakfast and be asking for seconds. It will take something really special to top this for death metal this year, highly recommended.