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Grave - Dominion VIII - 70%

ThrashManiacAYD, September 3rd, 2009

Grave, one of the stalwarts of classic old-school Swedish Death Metal are back, returning with their 8th studio album, appropriately titled "Dominion VIII". If you read this not being familiar with the stylistic accuracies of Grave, let me say that they are in my mind almost the perfect definition of 'old-school Death Metal'. This doesn't necessarily mean I think they are one of the greatest DM bands of all time, although many would argue they are, but their sound is so uncompromisingly old, even 20 years after they formed. Their riff structure and progression is generally at the simpler end of the spectrum; the drumming is solid and hammering but never fast; the guitars are heavy, dissonant and down-tuned; and hoarse vocals sing tales of death, darkness and anti-religious sentiment. I hope fans of newer flag-bearers such as Job For A Cowboy are interested to read on and see where their roots lie...

The recipe for "Dominion VIII" is largely unchanged from Grave's classic 1991 "Into The Grave", though the band did flirt with somewhat softer territory in the middle of their career. The majority of songs tend to be of a mid-length territory, around 3.5 - 5 minutes, and feature largely similar song structures, differing in the key riffs of the song and other moments for comparisons such as bridges and the locations of solos. As such, picking highlight moments or songs is difficult as Grave are very much an 'album band' - listening to one song doesn't reveal the guilty pleasure of appreciating something as resolutely defiant as this. If pushed though some of the best moments can be found in "Bloodpath", the video for which I posted here recently, a Death Metal sibling of Slayer of a song that epitomises the crunchy Entombed/Dismember guitar sound favoured by Grave, and "Dark Signs", slower and more Unleashed-like in it's tempo which like every other feels built for headbanging in the live environment. Grave proves that good doesn't have to mean complicated!

I think anyone reading this far down is going to get the picture by now: chances are if you have any passion for DM you'll appreciate Grave, if not Grave will probably just bore you. The legions of 'new old-school' DM bands, often formed in retaliation to the new more clinical form of DM, such as Kaamos, Insision and Dead Congregation owe a massive debt to the likes of Grave and dictate that they should be heard. Commendably solid; re-assuringly unprogressive, Grave are back ladies and germs.

Originally written for Rockfreaks.net