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Graveyard Dirt - For grace or damnation CD - 90%

Phuling, January 5th, 2012

When I first came in contact with Graveyard Dirt it was with their 2007 EP Shadows of old ghosts, containing tracks originally meant to be released ten years earlier, but where never recorded. After a number of years on hold they were back, and I just loved the EP. It was quite frankly one of the best doom releases I had heard. So when the lot’s first album hit the streets I had extremely high expectations for it. And, to be perfectly honest, I was fairly disappointed by For grace or damnation at first, but after a few more listens it really stuck.

After the short and mellow intro of By wind and time we’re suddenly struck by the massive sound of Daylights wrath. The heavily pounding drums, the resounding riffing, it comes delivered in such a marvelously dense production, and played at the right volume really echoes throughout your body. It’s instantly blatantly obvious to anyone even remotely familiar with doom/death that Graveyard Dirt is a force to be reckoned with. They’re not just taking things slow for the sake of doom, but have really put an effort into versatility and nuance. Never does the drumming sound repetitive, but instead it offers a wide variety of beats and tempos, and is at a constant progression, whereas one can never be quite sure where it’ll lead us next. I’m utterly impressed by the massiveness of both writing and execution in that department, as well as the sound. Production-wise it’s clean and crisp, really letting every single beat come through in a massive wall of sound, yet it oozes with eeriness, drenched in somberness, and the guitars buzz so heavily it could put cracks in the foundation of any building. This is really a perfect production for such an album; heavy-as-shit and raw yet clean.

Stylistically it’s pretty clear we’re dealing with the older school of doom/death, with bands such as Paradise Lost, Anathema and My Dying Bride coming to mind. But any movements towards gothic vibes are ignored by Graveyard Dirt, which is a bloody good thing. With a track like Enslaved by grief the similarities to Mourning Beloveth becomes clear, and with the initial riff of the song I feel a strong resemblance to their fellow countrymen.

In all honesty Daylights wrath is undoubtedly my favourite track on here. Not that the rest of the material's bad in any way, but that particular song has an aggressive vibe that the rest of them don’t. Another reason’s probably also the fact that it doesn’t contain much of the spoken vocals, ‘cause that’s something I’ve always had a problem with. And that’s pretty much the only drawback I find on For grace or damnation; the fact that it’s riddled with this semi-whispered spoken vocal-shite. It rarely adds effect, in my book, but instead sounds a tad cheesy. Used sparsely it’s all fine and dandy, but here it’s just way too much for me to take sometimes. Otherwise the vocals are a harsh and raspy style of growling. It’s not your typical deep and semi-grunting growl, but just a real throaty shout. And it’s absolutely fantastic.

Graveyard Dirt produces a long line of melancholic riffs and sombre melodic guitar leads. But instead of ending up like a saddened mess of a gothically inclined doom album, they retain a certain raw and semi-brutal touch to the material, at times flirting a bit with the funereal style of doom. The album’s an hour’s worth of extremely heavy, utterly powerful and oh-so-sweet doom/death, diverse and versatile in a way yet coherent in a way that puts the big names of the genre to shame.

Originally written for My Last Chapter