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Graveland’s third demo, Drunemeton, is in some respects an improvement over Rob's prior two releases, but in another respect it even more annoying. On the positive side, a number of aspects of the Graveland sound are starting to develop. For one, the production is a little more open. The first two demos are extremely tight and cluttered, but Drunemeton has a more expansive sound. This helps build a little more atmosphere. Second, Rob has dropped the deep, gurgled vocals, opting instead for a husky black metal rasp. Third, the riffs are a little less industrial and a little more metallic. Fourth, Rob continues to show improvement on the synth. The tacky four note melodies of the prior demos have been replaced by more lush, symphonic keys that actually give the music some mood. In the case of “The Forest of Nemeton” the lead synth is actually quite haunting and moving—worthy of the Graveland moniker!
On the downside, the industrial drum machine is still in place—only now it is quite out of place. For example, the drum machine is whipping the same high-hat note at 100 MPH on “The Eyes of Balor” while the band is playing at about 2/3 the speed. Also the drum machine is so damn loud that it is hard to hear anything else. While the ambiance is slightly improved on Drunemeton, the songwriting is still basically non-existent. Most of the metal tracks consist of one progression repeated over and over. This demo relies far too much on ambiance to compensate for the absence of composition.
While Drunemeton sounds a little more like the Graveland we all know and love than its predecessors, it is ultimately just another lousy, poorly put together demo. Some of the pure ambient pieces might manage to raise the hair on your arms, but most of this demo is simply sedating.
(Originally written for http://deinos-logos.blogspot.com/)
This is Graveland's third demo and what a demo it is! The typical early Graveland-style sees its first manifestation here, only its ten times as aggressive as anything Darken did afterwards (except maybe the Lord Wind demo).
Out from the fog of static tapehiss, the first booming churchbell and organ herald the coming darkness. At first glance it seems not much different from Graveland's other organ-based intro's, but there is something here which turns this into something apocalyptic. Later on Darken's vocals enter the picture, a harsh, blackened whisper from the grave.
When the intro ends, you are bludgeoned by the sudden burst of hyperspeed machinedrumming and the Bathory-esque riffing of 'the eyes of balor'.
A minute later the noise stops to give way to another insane church-organ bit, before another explosion of maniacal machinedrums and chaotic riffs burst free in 'shadow of doom' which again only lasts a minute.
Almost the same church-organ riff starts 'the days of black sun', only this time its slightly more coherent, giving way to a mid-tempo song, punctuated by short bursts of speed and an oscillating keyboardline in the background. This song recalls the slower songs of the preceding demo's, as well as the following, slightly faster 'the dawn of battle', with it's noise-like main riff, pierced by strange, alien-sounding keys, that rise in pitch as the song progresses, becoming more and more intense.
It's all played very sloppy, but the strong songwriting makes up for everything. 'Regicide' mainly consists of black ambient, with a mid-tempo riff serving as short outro instead of the other way around.
After the centre black ambient instrumental (called 'intro' strangely enough) which brings to mind burzum's 'dungeons of darkness', the more epic and less insane half of drunemetron commences.
'Eternal winter' is a slowly evolving work of epic mastery, actually being not too dissimilar from Graveland's current pagan works! Very atmospheric and far less minimalistic than any songs from the first half.
'Drunemetron' then follows, a short synth-instrumental, sounding quite similar to the intro from 'the celtic winter'.
This heralds 'winds of winter' a faster, thrashing piece of black metal, while still remaining highly epic and memorable (unlike the first few blasting tracks). Bad-ass riffs, interesting time-changes and a brutal drum-machine, make for one hell of a track!
'The forest nemeton' follows up on a different note, being mid-paced, with a chugging main riff and mournfull keyboards. Other than the speed of the drum-machine and a shifting line of more background synths, this song stays the same for its duration of three minutes, but it sounds so epic that I wouldn't mind if it continued for twice that long!
Finally, drunemetron finishes with 'celtic sanctuary', the best track of the demo. This track, with its pounding, pagan drumwork, heavy riffs and Conan-esque synths would not be out of place on something like 'Creed of iron'!
This belongs to my favorite Graveland releases, right alongside 'Carpathian wolves', 'Thousand swords' and 'Creed of iron'. The first half perfectly captures the maniacal, evil horror-sound of early graveland, while the second half largely consists of pagan-sounding epic mastery!
It shows Darken's visionary genius that both of these distinctive styles are already present on this demo and every selfrespecting black-metal fan must hear this.