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Just in case you didn’t already know, all of Europe’s best death metal comes from Sweden. Some are Desultory, Unleashed, Entombed and of course Grave. Their debut album “Into the Grave” is everything that even the most elitist, hardcore metal fan would enjoy. With five demos and an EP in their past, 1991 would be the year they would release their first proper record. It’s eleven tracks of ferocity that reminds me of all of the Swedish death metal acts that I have listened to.
There are definite similarities across the board with metal bands within and outside the death metal sub-genre, including the creators of Heavy Metal themselves: Black Sabbath. On the title track “Into the Grave,” a third into the song a voice synth is programmed to play a melody that is almost identical to the opening riff of Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath.” With that as a fact, it’s up to us the listeners to decide whether or not that this similarity is a problem. Also, the first riff to “Into the Grave” has an identical rhythm but different notes than that of “Visions” by Desultory. Finally, the guitar solos were a mirror image of the dissonant, off kilter solos played by John Walker of Cancer on Cancer’s first album “To the Gory End.” I enjoyed these similarities very much and they gave this record a more complete feeling and sound. Compared to their last releases Grave was only getting better, and they evolved into a more raw sound from “Sexual Mutilation” and “Anatomia Corporis Humani.” I think that it was a change for the better.
Grooves and rhythms are what make this album so fun to listen to. The song “Haunted” with its killer opening riff makes you want to get up and mosh like crazy. It is arguably the best song on this LP because it taps into all different kinds of rhythms and catchy melodies. The bass fills, distorted solo, and precise drum fills add the finishing touch to this masterpiece. The other best track of this release is “In Love.” When I saw this track’s title I was hesitant. I thought “Is this a joke?” I soon found out the opposite. It’s the same kind of perverse and distorted love that Cannibal Corpse uses in their “love” songs like “I Cum Blood” and “Necropedophile.” Only this time, it’s in the form of Swedish death metal. The riffs of this song have a ominous and foreboding quality to them and when you listen to them they will simply tear right through you.
“Into the Grave’s” production quality was probably 7 out of 10. It loses 3 points for a couple of reasons. First, the bass is always being drowned out. This is a pet peeve of mine and many other metalheads, and this is a musical crime still being committed. No bass = no album. Also, some of the bottom ends of the guitar solos were drowned out by the drums and bass at times. Despite this, the complete sound and tone of Grave was never too muddy. All low melodies were crystal clear and the very high notes were fat and rich.
There were some “filler” melodies such as the chorus first riff for “For Your God” and the second riff of “Banished to Live.” Those two songs didn’t do too much in the territory of memorability. Regardless of the occasional canned refrain, the album never loses energy. If one were to make a graph of the band’s sound, there would be no arch. It would be a steady upward climb. For a debut album, this is absolutely fantastic. The bass playing was on point and supportive. Jonas Torndal does his job perfectly. Ola Lindgren and Jorgen Sandström guitar work is chuggy, full of great grooves, and breakdowns that you can bang your head to. The solos were especially brutal. And let us not forget the silent killer behind the kit, Jensa Paulsson. He is much like Thomas Johnson of Desultory. He is tight, always on beat, but never doing anything too showy and flashy. He adds the no nonsense attitude that all metal bands need to some extent. Finally I would like to credit artist Axel Hermann for his intriguing take of earth entering “The Grave.” I loved the visual of a church, castle turret, lighthouse (whatever you think it is) being slowly consumed by waves of pestilence and filth. Swedish death metal will always be my favorite kind, and I hope it becomes yours too. Add this magnificent album to your collection.
There was a lot to like about the good old days of death metal, namely the 1987-1993 era, where death metal managed to be vile and nasty without losing any sense of coherence. Granted, there is a valid criticism that bands such as Benediction, Dismember and Entombed were just a little too stylized during their formative years, often times sounding a lot like each other. But this criticism pretty much holds true for any musical scene, as it didn't take long for bands to latch onto Suffocation's different brand of brutality soon after "Pierced From Within" really began making waves, not to mention the continual influence that Cryptopsy has upon the brutal and technical fringes of death metal. Given its time, Grave's debut "Into The Grave" is quite typical in its character, but it presents a tried and true formula in a way that is so unfettered in its speed, rage, and darkness that it edges out much of the competition.
Distilling all of the viciousness of mid 80s Slayer, Possessed and Sepultura with a sludgy, swampy sound more along the lines of "Altars Of Madness", but minus the grindcore-inspired constant blasting and a slightly less chaotic tremolo riffing style, this album is a consistent affair in literally cutting to the chase. Unlike many of the thrash albums that paved the way for the sound heard on here, there are no atmospheric intros, and only a few scant keyboard sections to add a little otherworldly flavor to what is more of a gore-obsessed sound, just a constant barrage of heavy hitting brutality. Topping it all of is vocalist Ola Lindgren, whose extremely deep and guttural barks rival the most insidious characters heard out of the NYDM scene, perhaps bearing the most resemblance to Immolation's low-end bellower Ross Dolan, but with a slightly more forceful growl that hints at a slight early Glen Benton influence as well.
But the most appealing aspect of this album is not the raging extremes that it goes to, but its underlying simplicity and accessibility. When listening to blistering fits of ferocity like "Deformed" and "For Your God", the first thing that leaps out is a very loyal adherence to a fairly standard songwriting formula that was around when Ola had started what became this band in the mid-80s, drawing upon the same mixture of mostly fast-paced thrashing with an occasional slower breakdown section that serves to sneak in some influences parallel to Obituary and Autopsy. The guitar work usually comes off as highly minimalist, while the drum work tends to handle most of the shifts in overall feel that keep each song from getting too repetitive, and the obligatory guitar solos definitely have a strong late 80s thrash vibe to them similar to Cannibal Corpse, shredding up the fret board in generally short bursts and adding just enough sugar to help the cadaver down the hatch.
One thing is certain, given that this masterful opus was commited to recording in less than 2 weeks, this band had their act together right from the beginning. Nowadays this is largely seen as an antiquated approach to the style, largely reserved for the old guard, a few token latecomers like Jungle Rot (granted, in their case latecomer only means a few years after this sound moved aside for the death n' roll craze), and the present revivalist crowd intent on reliving this same era, but it's far from a safe listen even amongst those younger types who are addicted to their slams and their core. Anyone who took to the earliest offerings of Deicide, Incantation, Immolation and even the checkered Darkthrone debut "Soulside Journey" will find an equally vile expression of extreme filth here.
The world was shocked in the early 90’s with the awakening of the Swedish death metal scene; the concept of Swedish as mellow, sweet and gentle was smashed all of a sudden…well, I mean musically of course.That country never had a solid scene until that moment, apart from some underrated thrash bands (Agony, Hexenhaus, Fallen Angel, Flegma, Hyste’ria G.B.C., Kazjurol, Midas Touch, The Krixhjalters, etc.), the popular lame pop group Europe and legendary doom metallers Candlemass. Nobody could expect what was yet to come, the glorious movement that would change the whole subgenre and influence a whole next generation, just like Possessed, Kreator, Sepultura, Destruction or Death did way back in the middle 80’s. Grave was one of those killer bands that were part of that wave, formed by 4 young angry guys with rage, talent and ambition, previously known as Corpse. Century Media Records was aware of the possibilities and potential of the group and offered them a record deal; I’m sure nobody could expect the amazing result of their first long-play, probably the most brutal debut in the history of metal. Welcome to the grave.
I think nobody could react with indifference to this stuff: each song is a violent exhibition of killer riffs, some raw and incredibly fast, other much weighty and slow. The band alternates fierce velocity with calmed mid-paced tempos during most of the compositions. The songs start with an intense quiet prelude of low-tuned riffs and then change suddenly into an unpredictable outrageous rhythm, defined by a bunch of blast-beats when you less expect it. Then they alterate the main riff sequence and concentrate on the delightful breaks, intrumental passages and pickin’ parts. That’s the pattern they follow on the raging “Day Of Mourning”, “Hating Life” or “Inhuman”, which are a remarkable lesson in song-writing complexity and technique, so don’t try this at home! And when Grave put emphasis on their crippling velocity and sadistic verses, then you’d better get ready to headbang: “Deformed”, “In Love” or “Banished To Live” are merciless, bestial and harsh to the extreme; the double bass-drum rhythms and the rampant riffing series are superb, along with the sinister vocals in a majestic display of incendiary death metal. The violence gets even higher on “Obscure Infinity”, “For Your God” and the iconic “Extremely Rotten Flesh”, which are plenty of impossible rhythm changes, pure aggression and power, and progressive instrumental parts and harmonies. Ola and Jörgen get together and synchronize notably with each other in the guitar parts to build an indestructible wall of sound, no weak spots can be found. The band introduces some stratospheric keyboards as well, to reach an evil atmosphere and climax (on the magnificent epic title-track, for example), just like Morbid Angel and Death tried before, providing the music of a dark halo that fits the grotesque leading vocals; the result is unnerving and unforgettable, like a nightmare come true.
The macabre horrific lyrics are as inspired and brilliant as the music itself, it’s time for pain, death, darkness, deformity, rotting meat and cruelty. The perfect combination for Grave’s crude sound and lethal technique; horror and skills, isn’t it what death metal is all about? I highlight the immaculate performance of both Lindgren and Sandström, their rough guitar work is unique, an exhibition of virtuosism and completely controlled technique and creativity. The influence of Tony Iommi’s peculiar style on most of their obscure heavy riffs is evident and obvious, and the legacy of Celtic Frost or Voivod is present and notable as well. The vocals are one of the most wicked characteristics on this masterpiece, almost inhuman, infernal and terrifying each second on these symphonies of slow death and savagery that are gonna freak you out at once. Bass and drums are strenghtful, very solid; Jensa Paulsson and Jonas Torndal parts are well-executed, professional and fortunately loud in the final mix. Tomas Skogsberg’s excellent production is another element that contributes to the perfection on this masterpiece: guitars, rhythmic section and voice are equally loud and powerful; each note and small detail is easily listenable and noticeable. The decent Century Media 2001 reissue features some rare bonus tracks: a couple of unreleased demos, “Tremendous Pain” and “Eroded” from a 7 inch EP and “Putrefaction Remains” and “Haunted” from the “In The Eyes Of Death” compilation. Those 4 ones specially feature the distinctive aggression and outstanding brutality of the band, but this time the primitive production provides the music of an unexpected savage sound, more raw than the stuff on the long-play itself, so don’t forget to check them out!
A killer debut, that’s what this is. Grave would never achieve the same intensity and state of grace as on this album, it’s clear this is one of those masterpieces a group can only make once in life. However, Ola and co. reached a much higher level than other Swedish bands of that time, I personally never got that excited with Dismember, Entombed or Unleashed, but I will never forget the first time I listened to this and the first impression I got: total catharsis, and I relive it each time I hear these evil numbers again and again. Highly recommended and essential for any death metal fan, and vital for the development of the early 90’s swedish movement. I just wish that this efficient line-up didn’t break up (nowadays Ola is the only one left) and that Grave didn’t introduce those changes in their sound in the mid-90’s, but anyway their glorious past can’t be forgotten.
Do you like heavy, uncompromising and suffocating Death Metal? Do you like it when your ears are hit by a rapid onslaught of chunky, sludgy riffs that engulf your entire hearing spectrum in one big wave? Do you often stay up late at night, wishing you could find the perfect slice of Swedish Death Metal for your lover this Valentine's Day, so they can share the magic too?
Well, wish no more. Hailing all the way from Sweden, Grave's 1991 debut album is sure to be a hit with every loving couple this season. Guttural, flesh-ripping guitars slice and dice their way through Into the Grave's 40 minute duration, completely overwhelming the listener with a surprisingly heavy sound, as compared to the biting, chainsaw-esque sound also being developed around the same time by last year's romantic dinner staples Entombed. The guitars are the main feature here, with their gut-wrenchingly heavy, Earth-shaking tone stealing the listener's attention, but they are also topped off with the low, rumbling growls of Jorgen Sandstrom, and also spiced up with a healthy layer of crushing drums that will make your loved one melt.
Every song provides a heavy and all around satisfying listen, for both the seasoned Death Metal veteran and also those who want to find a good starting point for the genre. Kicking off with the pummeling and horrific "Deformed," Into the Grave will take the listener on a hellish journey through what will feel like, perhaps, the weight of a thousand boulders upon their back as they try to crawl out of their own tomb. If you were looking for a new method of massaging your loved one's back, this album will help you out. It's heaviness is shocking, and yet it is perfect for the romantic couple wanting something more daunting and extreme. Every song offers similar delights, drilling themselves into your head with the finest organic songwriting available. Both dependable and headbangable, Into the Grave has a multitude of uses.
With critics calling Into the Grave "The definitive Death Metal album," "Bestial, rotten, evil...," and "Extremely rotten, extremely fun!", it's merits cannot be denied. Grave's sound is always welcome, not innovating anything and not trying to. Into the Grave is an honest album, presenting itself as the ugly, hairy and rugged behemoth that it is, and it is recommended only to the most honest of people. When you buy Grave, you know you're buying into something you can trust.
Yes, all the songs pretty much sound the same, but that very consistency is the beauty of Into the Grave, and it almost makes it too good for the shelves this year! With song titles like "Hating Life," "Extremely Rotten Flesh" and "Inhuman," Into the Grave not only functions as an orgasm to the ears, but it is also the perfect soundtrack to a romantic dinner by candlelight - especially effective if you want to really set the mood and dine in such a place as the dank catacomb which is pictured on the album's lovely cover. Your woman will never be happier.
Into the Grave is a 100% all-natural Swedish Death Metal album, a fact proven by several men wearing white and who have important sounding prefixes before their names.
I was already amazed (in a good way) by the Corpse demo in 1986 and I had to write this review about the very first Grave album. After several demos, finally they succeeded in releasing this great full length in 1991, and it’s all about pure Swedish death metal style. Entombed and Carnage were the first but Grave cannot be considered followers, not at all!!!
The level of brutality in this album has few paragons…While Entombed in this year began to release songs with a different approach, Grave takes no prisoners with this debut. It can be easily considered their most brutal album during the career. The guitar sound is so rotten, low tuned and underground while the drum is always pounding and bad ass.
“Deformed” is the opener and still nowadays it is played in every gig. The up tempos are neverending and the vocals far more extreme than Entombed ones. No melody at all, except the one, hellish, of the guitars. Forget the mid paced, “cleaner” tempos of “You’ll Never See…” album; this is total impact. The Slayer evilness can be found in most of the riffs and structures. The odd, evil riffs of “In Love” are amazing, followed by fast solos, never technique but made to destroy.
With “For Your God” the level rottenness is so high...unbelievable. Here can really see Repulsion influences with the first blast beats. The sequence “Hating Life”-“Into The Grave”-“Extremely Rotten Flesh” is truly bestial in malevolence and impact. Especially the title track with some wise use of keys sound. Truly hellish.
Truly obscure the beginning of “Day Of Mourning” where the group shows a more mature songwriting with stop and go, bass breaks and speed restarts. The guitar lines on “Inhuman” are very evil and well guided by fast blast beats. Like the other songs before it, “Banished To Live” begins with a short mid paced tempos to transform in up tempos. Powerful and always rotten.
In a effort like this it’s easy to be a bit repetitive but Grave, without sacrificing impact and brutality, are able to create always very good songs and characteristic tempos or riffs that help the listener in distinguish them. Very good work. A classic.
This is another example of a great young band that – in their enthusiasm - took too little time to record and produce their debut album. They were just kids of course and all was done too hasty and carelessly. “Into the Grave” consisted of a few old demo songs (including the obscure ‘Hating Life’) and new songs. Over the years the band re-recorded other demomaterial on later albums. I wonder why they didn’t do that right away, but I am glad they did. This is simply because the production of ‘Into The Grave’ was way out of line and I prefer the sound on their ‘Anatomia Corporis Humani’ demo and the 1992 album ‘You’ll Never See’.
The guitars were tuned down too much, making the riffs sound extremely sloppy. The productional wall of guitars (prominently upfront in the mix) made this even more obvious. The drums should have been more upfront to emphasise riff and song dynamics and especially staccato parts. Furthermore the vocals had become less dynamic. Whereas they sounded really sick on earlier works, on the album they were just low and deep, losing a lot of the earlier morbid sound. To my dismay this resulted in lesser enjoyable versions of the democlassics ‘Deformed’ and the Grave traditional ‘Extremely Rotten Flesh’. The album version of the song ‘Into The Grave’ lacks the intro it had on the ‘Sick Disgust Eternal’ demo and also a section of this song had some keyboards instead of an earlier second guitar.
Okay, enough complaining. This explains why I was disappointed at first when it was released. But let’s be honoust,this album is of course a classic death metal album. Any real death metal fan just has to love’ Extremely Rotten Flesh’, ‘Haunted’, ‘Deformed’ and all those other raging pieces of old school material. Together with 1992’s ‘You’ll Never See’ this one is still an ultimate Grave album. If only the band had taken more time to record and produce it in a way that suited the material. On the other hand one could say that would haven taken away some of its intensity. Point taken, but Grave had already proved they could pull it off on their vastly superior earlier demos. It’s the knowledge that Grave could actually have done an even better job on their debut that makes me decide to give the album only 80 points.
I remember when this came out. I went to the mall with a friend in order that we might each purchase some Death Metal cassettes so that we might find some diversion to our aimless, raging teenage angst. I picked up "Into the Grave." He bought Incubus "Beyond the Unknown." After listening to each album he declared, "damn man, you always pick out the good one." Well, he was right on one account (he should've recognized the genius of Incubus, though I'll hardly complain as I bought it from him on the cheap later that afternoon). Many years later and I still grovel at the altar of early Grave. While this album has a lot in common with the rest of the early Swedish scene, it's easy to see how their relative geographic isolation shaped them into something very much their own. The early members of Grave grew up on the island of Gotland, somewhere Southeast of mainland Sweden. It's probably through this distance, far from the fertile ground of Stockholm, that the band was able to forge an identity that was to be their calling card. The Sunlight Production of "Into the Grave" binded them to their compatriot contemporaries, but the focus of the music was centered on something much more straight forward, even by the standards of Stockholm, which were easily the most accessile of the era for Death Metal. Grave was going for the jugular, quick and simple. The riffs, while lacking any traditional melody, were highly memorable if only for their simplicity. The vocals were about as low as a person could go without utilizing some sort of 'cheating" technology. The drums were full and active with lots of fills and a sense of urgency - constant creativity within the rhythm, yet always pushing forward as if in dire need off reaching the end. It's almost as if you were laying on the ground while a series of monster trucks jumped 20 cars and then landed directly on your crotch, only you got a boner every time it happened. This stuff is heavy and brutal and gutteral and lots of other generic words that don't even do it justice. The bottom line is that Grave knew how to write a song, a primitive and simple song, but it was still damn catchy and fun. If only they had stuck to that formula*
*with the exception of "Soulless"