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In Love With This Album - 85%

Roffle_the_Thrashard, March 13th, 2015

Just in case you didn’t already know, all of Europe’s best death metal comes from Sweden. Some are Desultory, Unleashed, Entombed and of course Grave. Their debut album “Into the Grave” is everything that even the most elitist, hardcore metal fan would enjoy. With five demos and an EP in their past, 1991 would be the year they would release their first proper record. It’s eleven tracks of ferocity that reminds me of all of the Swedish death metal acts that I have listened to.

There are definite similarities across the board with metal bands within and outside the death metal sub-genre, including the creators of Heavy Metal themselves: Black Sabbath. On the title track “Into the Grave,” a third into the song a voice synth is programmed to play a melody that is almost identical to the opening riff of Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath.” With that as a fact, it’s up to us the listeners to decide whether or not that this similarity is a problem. Also, the first riff to “Into the Grave” has an identical rhythm but different notes than that of “Visions” by Desultory. Finally, the guitar solos were a mirror image of the dissonant, off kilter solos played by John Walker of Cancer on Cancer’s first album “To the Gory End.” I enjoyed these similarities very much and they gave this record a more complete feeling and sound. Compared to their last releases Grave was only getting better, and they evolved into a more raw sound from “Sexual Mutilation” and “Anatomia Corporis Humani.” I think that it was a change for the better.

Grooves and rhythms are what make this album so fun to listen to. The song “Haunted” with its killer opening riff makes you want to get up and mosh like crazy. It is arguably the best song on this LP because it taps into all different kinds of rhythms and catchy melodies. The bass fills, distorted solo, and precise drum fills add the finishing touch to this masterpiece. The other best track of this release is “In Love.” When I saw this track’s title I was hesitant. I thought “Is this a joke?” I soon found out the opposite. It’s the same kind of perverse and distorted love that Cannibal Corpse uses in their “love” songs like “I Cum Blood” and “Necropedophile.” Only this time, it’s in the form of Swedish death metal. The riffs of this song have a ominous and foreboding quality to them and when you listen to them they will simply tear right through you.

“Into the Grave’s” production quality was probably 7 out of 10. It loses 3 points for a couple of reasons. First, the bass is always being drowned out. This is a pet peeve of mine and many other metalheads, and this is a musical crime still being committed. No bass = no album. Also, some of the bottom ends of the guitar solos were drowned out by the drums and bass at times. Despite this, the complete sound and tone of Grave was never too muddy. All low melodies were crystal clear and the very high notes were fat and rich.

There were some “filler” melodies such as the chorus first riff for “For Your God” and the second riff of “Banished to Live.” Those two songs didn’t do too much in the territory of memorability. Regardless of the occasional canned refrain, the album never loses energy. If one were to make a graph of the band’s sound, there would be no arch. It would be a steady upward climb. For a debut album, this is absolutely fantastic. The bass playing was on point and supportive. Jonas Torndal does his job perfectly. Ola Lindgren and Jorgen Sandström guitar work is chuggy, full of great grooves, and breakdowns that you can bang your head to. The solos were especially brutal. And let us not forget the silent killer behind the kit, Jensa Paulsson. He is much like Thomas Johnson of Desultory. He is tight, always on beat, but never doing anything too showy and flashy. He adds the no nonsense attitude that all metal bands need to some extent. Finally I would like to credit artist Axel Hermann for his intriguing take of earth entering “The Grave.” I loved the visual of a church, castle turret, lighthouse (whatever you think it is) being slowly consumed by waves of pestilence and filth. Swedish death metal will always be my favorite kind, and I hope it becomes yours too. Add this magnificent album to your collection.