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Extremely Rotten Sound - 68%

Oxenkiller, March 13th, 2008

I got a confession: I didn’t get to hear this D.I.Y release until after I had heard their debut album on Century Media, and to be honest, I didn’t really like it at first. There are a couple of reasons why, but fortunately this tape sort of grew on me, to the point where I can absoluetely recommend it. And when you get down to it, this really is actually decent early Swedish death-core at its rawest and ugliest.

To get the bad stuff out of the way first, the production on this demo is probably the biggest strike against it. That was what put me off at first. The sound engineer really didn’t do a good job of capturing the grinding heaviness of the down-tuned guitar, and the resulting sound is somewhat muddy and flat. It almost sounds like two bass players, instead of a guitar and a bass. In their defense though, Grave was one of the first death metal bands to tune their instruments this low, (down to a low A!) so it probably took a while to figure out how to really get the most out of their sound. At least, it would take a more professional sound engineer, which they wouldn’t have until they signed a record deal. Remember, this is essentially only a demo, and when you look at it in context: in 1989 the whole death/grind thing was just getting going and there weren’t very many bands like this yet.

The other negative is the playing isn’t as tight as on later releases and, most annoyingly, it seems like the instruments aren’t always quite in tune with each other; I’m assuming this wasn’t intentional but is a distraction at times.
But on the plus side, the riffs and the overall sick, grinding heaviness are definitely there. Some of the mid-paced to fast downtuned riffs have that catchiness and heaviness that make the songs effective, despite the flawed sound. “Extremely Rotten Flesh” and “Septic Excrements” utilize these killer grind riffs to great effect, while the other two songs aren’t bad either; really all four songs are well constructed. Only “Extremely Rotten Flesh” would make it to the LP though, I don’t think the other three songs appear anywhere else. Which is a shame, because I would have loved to have heard re-recorded versions them with a better sound.

Despite its flaws I would wholeheartedly recommend this to fans of early gore/grind metal, and in particular to fans of this band. But to really appreciate this bands full potential, you got to listen to their full length album (“Into The Grave”) That album really is a much better representation of what Grave sounded like and was truly about, than this tape. But nonetheless, this is a great example of the early, unadulterated raw Swedish death metal sound, before melody and that way-too-slick Gothenburg sound transformed (or some would say corrupted) it. Worth checking out.