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Out of Åland, a small, autonomous island region of Finland, comes this three-piece death metal band. An EP of 20 minutes and eight tracks, a multitude of short songs, usually denotes an album with not a lot of memorable songs and while this is true for Grim Death AWaits, it is not a bad thing this time. The EP ends up sounding more like one long song with multiple parts. It is difficult to recall any exact parts of the album, but it is always a joy to listen through and is over sooner than you know. What's better, one will more often than not feel like giving it another spin. This is due to its unmemorable nature: When the music doesn't stick like gum to the brain, it won't get into the comfort zone as easily and will stay more receptive and alert.
Musically, the band alters quite a bit between slower and moodier pieces and more intense and speedier pieces. Some songs feature both kinds and the shifts between them can be pretty abrupt. Vorum handle them very well though. When speeding up the next section is usually introduced Morbid Angel-style: Guitars come in first, playing the riff for a couple of bars before the frantic drums kick in, a very effective technique. On the other hand, extended drum fills pave the way for slower parts and the skill of the drummer make them work. These slower parts draw mostly from Asphyx and Autopsy with rather simplistic, drudgy riffs and sparse leads, though their playing is a whole lot tighter than the other two and draws a bit of atmosphere from the older guard of Finnish death metal. While the band seems to have wanted to put the emphasis on these slower parts - with the last track being by far the longest and mostly a slow crawl - they work better when serving to create more dynamics with the blazing, faster sections. These frantic and intense parts draw a lot from Altars of Madness-era Morbid Angel. In fact they sound like a modernized version of said album so not that surprisingly they are the highlights of the album. They allow the most prominent part of the band shine, the drummer. He is very tight and keeps everything together with his precise timing. There are a couple of missteps, mainly the beginning beats of Through the Throats of Liars and Obscure Rites. Such lazy and lethargic drum beats have no place in death metal at all.
The drums are also produced to perfection. Nothing is overpowering and they are well balanced with the rest of the instruments. The snare and bass especially are in excellent harmony with each other, both being super tight. The cymbals are rather low in the mix though, but that doesn't really matter with the tight snare- and basswork. A wall of sound, as wide as Styx, is created by the guitars. There's no getting past it, you just have to let them roar over you. The sound itself is rather artificial underneath all the massiveness, but this is hard to hear without good headphones. Normally the crunch and rumble cover it up. To compliment this wall of sound is the chthonic bass and the harsh and wide roar of the vocalist, who is mixed surprisingly low. Audible, but definitely a bit behind the drums and guitar.
Vorum have a lot of sound and fury and passion on Grim Death Awaits, but it is a bit unfocused right now. When the band is on, they grasp you into a whirlwind of riffs and blastbeats, but unfortunately these times are few. More often you're listening to the slow plodding onwards wondering if this is going anywhere and if there's better stuff that you could be listening to. With a little more effort on songwriting, they will go far. The EP is an entertaining listen, but most probably one forgets about it soon.
The short-lived Finnish death metal scene of the early 90s produced a lot of excellent obscure releases. The key sound that characterized this style can be heard on Funebre’s Children of the Scorn and Demigod’s Slumber of Sullen Eyes. The music is death/doom in the earliest of stages characterized by a very heavy guitar tone and punishing riffs combined with bleak solos. Vorum has clearly taken a lot of influence from this scene but instead of just rehashing what has been done before like say Funebrarum, they combine it with influences from more modern bands like Behemoth.
The guitar tone on Grim Death Awaits is incredibly heavy and murky sounding. The riffs range from fast and furious being somewhat technical like Behemoth to slow and desolate producing a heavy wall of sound like a heavier version of Demigod and Funebre. Dissonant solos are occasionally included that help aid in the desolate atmosphere of a world in post-destruction. The musicianship is outstanding. There are many abrupt tempo changes yet it doesn’t ruin the flow of the music. One of my major gripes about the modern tech death scene is that they have so many abrupt tempo changes that there is no coherency at all. The problem with Vorum, however is that it results in the songs being a bit directionless and unmemorable. Death metal that focuses a lot on atmosphere should contain a bit more of a direction and building up the mood of the listener instead of jumping back and forth between a fast and brutal sound to a slower doomier one. I have noticed that when I am finished listening to this I can’t really remember much. There isn’t a whole lot of memorable sections to this release. The vocals are scarce in some tracks and could have been included a bit more. They are pretty standard growls, though with a very murky, distorted sound.
Even with the negatives I have this is still an excellent release and one of the best new releases I have heard recently. Vorum has what it takes to propel themselves to the top of the list of Finnish Death Metal scene. They just need to work on the songwriting a bit to make their songs more memorable. I eagerly look forward to future material from these guys.