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Epic Procession of Death - 91%

SadisticGratification, May 12th, 2013

The Swedish death metal sound has always been incredibly unique. The 'buzzsaw' tone heard on classic releases like “Left Hand Path” from Entombed, “Like An Everflowing Stream” from Dismember or more importantly “Into the Grave” by Grave. These were among the more unique records heard at the time. There was no convoluted formula to follow, it was all about the aggression, the guttural roar of the vocals immense heaviness due in part to unique sound encompassed in these bands. While Entombed and Dismember went in separate directions from their roots; Grave stayed true to their original purpose. Sure there have been line up changes since “Into The Grave”, they may have slowed down on one or two records (Looking at you Soulless) but the sound has always been there and “Endless Procession of Souls” is no different. If you were to weaken the production a little and show it to someone with no knowledge of this album then it would get away with being classified as an old school record such is the intensity and sound Grave managed to conjure up in this record. A true classic.

The album starts off with a 30 second intro of just guitar playing, pretty much just as simple as an intro can be but the way it melts into the start of the first song "Amongst The Marble and the Dead" is frighteningly heavy. There is no sound gap between the two tracks, your ears don't have time to adjust from one to another. All of a sudden your ears are blasted with that classic 'buzzsaw' sound. It's a very strong start to the album, as if a statement of intent from the band, heavy from the start and heavy until finish.

If you're familiar with Grave then this record won't shock you too much, all the familiar tricks of the trade are here. Gloomy slow breakdowns, uncomplicated but pure heavy riffing and as mentioned the 'buzzsaw tone'. The production on this record is of a 2012 standard. All the instruments are very well mixed, nothing stands out, just a good job overall. The overall sound is very raw when compared to certain records that were released in 2012 for example “At The Gates of Sethu” by Nile but comparing it to “Into The Grave” the debut it a much better mixed album but without compromising the classic Swedish sound. The vocals of Ola Lindgren sound like a man in deep agony, the anguished sound of his vocals and the gritty roar really helps set off just how heavy this album is and what kind of experience you're in for, how he manages to do these vocals is anyones guess because it would tear up the throat of a lesser man.

"Disembodied Steps" is by far the standout track on this supremely good album. There is no love lost and no time to adjust when this song hits you it blasts your face off, the intro riff takes you by surprise and starts the song off by telling you a) we don't mess around by building up our song, we're gonna blast your face off from the first second on b) oh and guess what this song gets heavier. Once the intro riff has run it's course which encompasses a good 45 seconds the song goes straight into over drive a faster but equally heavy riff takes over and the guttural vocals kick in, there is nothing too complicated here. Accomplished guitar work, standard death metal drumming but the way it all comes together makes this band stand out, especially on this track. The standard Grave breakdown riff kicks in around the 3:20 mark with Ola Lindgren screaming "Eternity", this particular section is really evil the riff plods along at a pretty slow pace. Then like a man from a mental asylum Ola Lindgren roars what are the finest lyrics on the album;

Driven to the breaking point
Is it just my loneliness fuckin' with my mind?
Centuries of hate trapped inside these walls
Living death claiming their rights

Reading them probably doesn't do it justice but the way it all comes together in a wholly evil way and then followed by two melodic solos before kicking back into the chorus to end the song finishes this song in a really good way.

The final track “EPoS” or “Endless Procession of Souls” the title track is a bit of uncharted territory for Grave this song is very different from every other song on the album. No it doesn't have a different sound from the rest of the album nor does Ola use clean vocals but it is different rest assured it is. First off the running time of nearly 8 minutes is not typical of Grave. Also this song tries to create a more epic feel to it rather than pure heaviness, it is still heavy don't worry. This song has a more progressive feel to it, lots of time changes throughout slows down and speeds up as it progresses. The first part of the song is slower and dark feeling, anguished sounding vocals and dark riffs but after the 5th minute the song takes off in a more speedy direction for one minute and promptly slows down into the previous section's darker chorus slowly fading out until the album finishes. A real proper album finisher, it reminds me a lot of “In Their Darkened Shrines” by Nile but on a smaller scale. It has the same affect, it is placed where it is to slowly finish the album and the experience of this utterly brilliant record.

One thing I learned from this album is that no amount of blast beats or indecipherable vocals can make up for pure heaviness. Grave shows that you can be stupidly heavy without going ridiculously fast and Ola Lindgren sounds like a demon from hell yet remains pretty understandable. This album took me by a huge surprise because while “Burial Ground” their previous release was a good release it wasn't really anything special. “Endless Procession of Souls” is among Grave's best albums and stands above a lot of records today that are released. It is pure heaviness without the overcomplicated technicalness of some of the newer bands. The real standout tracks are "Disembodied Steps", "Passion of the Weak", "Plague of Nations" and "EPoS" but it's hard not to enjoy this whole album.