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That old, rank, undead styled brutality. - 92%

hells_unicorn, August 6th, 2013

There was a lot to like about the good old days of death metal, namely the 1987-1993 era, where death metal managed to be vile and nasty without losing any sense of coherence. Granted, there is a valid criticism that bands such as Benediction, Dismember and Entombed were just a little too stylized during their formative years, often times sounding a lot like each other. But this criticism pretty much holds true for any musical scene, as it didn't take long for bands to latch onto Suffocation's different brand of brutality soon after "Pierced From Within" really began making waves, not to mention the continual influence that Cryptopsy has upon the brutal and technical fringes of death metal. Given its time, Grave's debut "Into The Grave" is quite typical in its character, but it presents a tried and true formula in a way that is so unfettered in its speed, rage, and darkness that it edges out much of the competition.

Distilling all of the viciousness of mid 80s Slayer, Possessed and Sepultura with a sludgy, swampy sound more along the lines of "Altars Of Madness", but minus the grindcore-inspired constant blasting and a slightly less chaotic tremolo riffing style, this album is a consistent affair in literally cutting to the chase. Unlike many of the thrash albums that paved the way for the sound heard on here, there are no atmospheric intros, and only a few scant keyboard sections to add a little otherworldly flavor to what is more of a gore-obsessed sound, just a constant barrage of heavy hitting brutality. Topping it all of is vocalist Ola Lindgren, whose extremely deep and guttural barks rival the most insidious characters heard out of the NYDM scene, perhaps bearing the most resemblance to Immolation's low-end bellower Ross Dolan, but with a slightly more forceful growl that hints at a slight early Glen Benton influence as well.

But the most appealing aspect of this album is not the raging extremes that it goes to, but its underlying simplicity and accessibility. When listening to blistering fits of ferocity like "Deformed" and "For Your God", the first thing that leaps out is a very loyal adherence to a fairly standard songwriting formula that was around when Ola had started what became this band in the mid-80s, drawing upon the same mixture of mostly fast-paced thrashing with an occasional slower breakdown section that serves to sneak in some influences parallel to Obituary and Autopsy. The guitar work usually comes off as highly minimalist, while the drum work tends to handle most of the shifts in overall feel that keep each song from getting too repetitive, and the obligatory guitar solos definitely have a strong late 80s thrash vibe to them similar to Cannibal Corpse, shredding up the fret board in generally short bursts and adding just enough sugar to help the cadaver down the hatch.

One thing is certain, given that this masterful opus was commited to recording in less than 2 weeks, this band had their act together right from the beginning. Nowadays this is largely seen as an antiquated approach to the style, largely reserved for the old guard, a few token latecomers like Jungle Rot (granted, in their case latecomer only means a few years after this sound moved aside for the death n' roll craze), and the present revivalist crowd intent on reliving this same era, but it's far from a safe listen even amongst those younger types who are addicted to their slams and their core. Anyone who took to the earliest offerings of Deicide, Incantation, Immolation and even the checkered Darkthrone debut "Soulside Journey" will find an equally vile expression of extreme filth here.