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This came out the same year as Like an Everflowing Stream and Where No Life Dwells and only one year after Left Hand Path, quickly sinking into relative obscurity while those other three landmarks of Sweden's original death metal movement attained legendary status. Why? Well, the principle of Occam's Razor, which states that the simplest solution is most often the correct one, applies. Grave was, let's be honest here, an also-ran in the Swedish scene and their debut album an adequate slab of death metal with all the prerequisite elements but lacking the fire, ambition, and personality other bands in their vicinity were bringing to the formula.
At the time, Unleashed had songs loaded with catchy riffs, Dismember had waves of awesome tremolo madness crashing down on the listener, and Entombed had a sheer ferocity that got people's blood flowing a little quicker. Grave had...nothing the other three couldn't also lay claim to. They had the blasting drums and the tremolo lines and the harsh vocals but couldn't figure out how to mix them together into something better than decent.
Grave's debut is essentially a bog of adequacy, with practically everything having the same uninteresting texture. In this journey through the swamp, few moments stand out in any way. In one of these passages, a sparser bit from album opener 'Haunted' finds a satisfying way to bring the bass out of hiding. A part toward the end of 'Deformed' that ends a recurrent rhythm on what sounds like a dissonant chord is memorable as well. Sadly, the goodness that rises above the surface is limited to individual moments that have pedestrian songs built around them.
This album's performances, like everything else here, are good enough but unspectacular. The vocals are technically competent but don't summon much excitement. Resident growler Jörgen Sandström's bark, though not unpleasant, is by-the-numbers and monotonous, never showing any sort of range or skill beyond what's needed to complete the songs. He doesn't spit much ferocity into the mic, instead keeping his voice consistently low but mostly devoid of feeling. Guitarists Sandström and Ola Lindgren skillfully deliver their tremolo lines, but steer clear of any engaging progressions, which results in a continuous buzz that's too easy to ignore. Conversely, there seems to be more life behind the kit. Nothing drummer Jens 'Jensa' Paulsson does is especially impressive or out of the ordinary, but he bashes away at the skins and cymbals with more enthusiasm than the other performers were able to communicate.
Ultimately, Into the Grave is satisfactory. If it happens to be playing, you won't get the urge to turn it off but it won't sweep you away, either. Before you know it, 42 minutes will have gone by and you'll be left with no recollection of what this release sounds like, beyond the elements it shares with every other Swedish death metal album from this time period.
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.
No other scene in the entire planet in metal history was heavier and more extreme than the old continent’s in the 80’s – from Teutonic death/thrash to the obscure, unjustifiably-overlooked Polish circuit, not to mention the malicious acts of the mature NWOBHM. All the above-mentioned movements however started faltering as the apocalyptic 90’s arrived, being followed by black and death’s second lease of life in Scandinavia. If you think of the Swedish death metal revival, 2 names will surely come to your mind unequivocally: Grave and Tomas Skogsberg. The combination of both talents on the band’s earliest works pointed at the direction this specific musical movement should be following in the next 5 years. Into The Grave was undoubtedly one of the seminal Swedish albums of the early-90’s, which carved a path for future bands in the European death metal context.
If you compared the earliest death metal stuff in the likes of Schuldiner, Becerra and to some extent, Mille & co., with these tunes, you might not find particularly shocking differences. Grave pretty much stick to the traditional subgenre formula on “Hating Life” and “Deformed”, which are constructed with no risk or audacity, rather going for the prototypical, unsurprising elements of enraged speed and sonic furor in the form of straightforward riffage and compulsive double-bass kicks. The proclivity for certain song-structure variability though, with slightly obstinate arrangements that modify the tempos and the composition and tone of lines doggedly, shakes up the dynamics to great effect, turning out to be a pretty valuable strategy to not fall into technical indolence and self-complacency. Complementing the delirious velocity on a majority of songs here, there are a few dense, hefty sections to be found, of course, notably decisive on the intro to “Day of Mourning” or the mid-sections on “Banished To Live”, yet sounding forced, obtrusive and artificial on the title-track, which steals with no shame certain riff sequence from that one band from Aston. But luckily, instead of repeating the same riff cadence and tone monotonously during the songs in general, these Swedish keep trying to alternate diverse sonic halos and grooves, from pounding to accelerate, as well as sporadically-enlightened riff variations – check “Extremely Rotten Flesh”.
Into The Grave started no revolution in the subgenre, meaning you’ll have to look somewhere else for experimentation, technicality and progression. Most Swedish preferred to associate with the shameless simplicity, nerve and insolent attitude of hardcore, instead of obeying the standards of instrumental quality and discipline of classic heavy metal, implicitly seeing themselves reflected on the philosophy of Poland/Germany-styled thrash. So despite their tenacity and piquancy when it comes to designing song-bodies which hardly remain unchanged during the titles, the arranging and configuration of riffs ain’t preeminent or presumptuous by any means – technical limitations are indelibly exposed on the performance besides, but Grave manage to push forward with their musical concept with energized passion and naturalness, unlike the dreary attempts from some of their compatriots. For this early stage in fact, regardless of the insufficient level of musicianship, the facility and witty with which they design humble, yet expressive instrumental landscapes, menacing atmospheres and amusingly abhorrent verses keeps this stuff from being too impersonal and contrived – something Skogsberg’s production contributes to, as well. Despite remaining sober and non-intrusive most of the time, his production emphasizes occasionally certain interiors like those surrounding synthesizers on the title-track, which combined with Jörgen Sandström’s infernal snarling, shapes a gloomy, dark climax which provides the songs of a more colorful aura and darker feeling the early demos were devoid of.
This is an album which has had an undeniably big impact on many generations of wannabe death metal artists throughout the years, not only in these guys’ home country but across the planet – with the help of other of Skogsberg’s protégés, it forged the identity and sound of one of the most promising and fruitful European extreme metal musical movements. Certainly, they didn’t risk too much here, they rather worshipped faithfully and romantically the mid-80’s pioneers, yet emphasizing the punkish roots, the vocal extravagance and the haunting halo twice as much as their idols. Curious how primitive records like this have aged so well, despite not bringing many changes to the classic values of the subgenre, which at the time weren’t innovative at all…
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"