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Production: Gloriously wretched; but not done "on purpose" to make it sound "more black metal" than more commercial acts. It seems that production on albums such as these is done from some sort of inherit intuition; subconscious knowledge of how to capture epic atmospheres and ancient textures. Some will hate this kind of production because it can be a challenge to listen to at first; there is no flash what so ever and the degraded overall tone is quite rough. If given a chance though, it soon becomes obvious that this production works well.
What this album lacks in technical skill the artists make up for in an understanding of how to make a composition full and complete. Epic themes are introduced, explored, expanded upon, and reintroduced; concluding a journey where the listener feels that nothing has been left out; the statement has been completed.
Themes of antiquity work almost like an incantation; awakening something buried deep in the listener's soul that one may not even be aware is present until experiences like these bring them to life.
The "evolution" of western culture has forced many Indo-Europeans and those of Indo-European descent to suppress natural parts of their psyche; Graveland's goal, to this reviewer, is to awaken these repressed souls and let them know that there is honor in being who they are meant to be, and that shame/guilt of such heritage is to be erased and put in the past.
Much of the Graveland aesthetic is based on honor and heroism; those who's intuition grasps this will most likely praise these type of albums as more than just listening experiences, but as cornerstones to life-changing growth.
As stated above, the melodies are epic and ancient in mood, and it is melody that dominates the focus of this release. I've heard detractors say that the drums are "pure shit" on this album; I beg to differ. The melodic themes are so pronounced here that even the drumming style introduces an unusual way of keeping that focus on said melodies.
Same goes for the guitar; some say the tone is "too thin", but an over distorted, obnoxious guitar, would distract the listener from the overall adventure.
I am in awe of this album; the atmosphere present on "Thousand Swords" is rarely duplicated, and Graveland should be given credit for contributing an astonishing piece of artwork to the world.