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An immersive experience - 96%

criscool623, September 6th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Narcoleptica Productions (Digipak, limited edition)

Shoegaze was (and in a certain way continues being) a totally unknown term for me; when I approached to this band, I was mainly looking forward to listening to a kind of atmospheric or doom-influenced black metal release, similar to bands like Trist, Burzum, Nargaroth or those atmospheric bands. When I finally checked it out, I was pleased, as the album had accomplished with my expectations, but let's get into matter little by little.

"Leave No Path To Follow" arrived as a fresh blow of air to my life. It's the kind of release that I needed. After looking for some material approached more to the vein of a slow and doom-like black metal (and more because of the continuous listening to thrash metal stuff that was starting to bore me), Krigsgrav arrived with all of those aspects and more. This is a pleasure, as I needed this kind of relaxing and hypnotic kind of music that invites the listened to calm down and let himself take by the music. Really, this is not an album that seeks to be brutal or aggressive (I think nobody approaches this kind of bands in hopes of listening to that, though), but it pretends to be an aural voyage to the most relaxed state of yourself. It sounds poetic (or ridiculous), but it's the feeling this album transmits to me: peace, tranquillity and relaxation (maybe in a not-very-orthodox manner, but there's always a cup of tea for everyone).

And that leads me to another strong aspect of the album: the songs. Most of them surpass the duration of 7 minutes and most of them are repetitive and minimalist, but being an album influenced by doom metal, this aspect is valid and an advantage for those who seek long, but relaxing songs; it´s an aspect that would be suitable for fans of albums like "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" or "Jahreszeiten" in terms of duration, but with that strength that characterises doom metal. Additionally, the instrumentation and the production help these songs have a powerful sound, even when it's not the main intention of the music. It's a wall of sound that pierce your ears owing to the thick and prominent sound of the bass in the mix (primordial in this kind o releases, to my eyes). These elements make the music an even more immersive experience.

The voice is descent. It's not outstanding, but it works. It's kind of reminiscent to Immortal's vocal style; not so violent, but harsh enough to be considered black metal. However, some timid hues in the form of death metal growls can be heard in certain parts of the music, which are a good addition.

The elements used are very economic and limited: tremolo picking, some punctual melodies that are continuously repeated and heavy riffs are the main dish of the album. Nevertheless (and retaking what I said at the first paragraph of this review), something that called my attention were the little clean guitar-based arpeggio sections hidden in some parts; as I told, shoegaze goes on being a new term for me, but I like to think that these sections in particular are characteristics of this shoegaze style; I'm not totally sure of this, but I wanted to mention how good was this aspect, which add a plus to the music.

Despite the marvel that I think this album is, I found some details I wanted to mention (but which are not bad enough to demerit the awesomeness of the rest of it).

Well, I found hilarious a specific riff taken from "The Withering", which is EXACTLY THE SAME RIFF that I've listened to in 4 sounds taking into account this one (more specifically, at the minute 7:32). The original song (or the oldest that I know, as to this point I wouldn't be surprised if I find out it's a rip-off as well) that contains this riff is "Acid Rain" by D.R.I., but I'm pretty sure you better know it by being the main riff of "The Pursuit of Viking" of Amon Amarth; time later, I discovered that the song "Gloryhammer" of the band with the same name included the same riff in their song, and when I heard the same riff in this release, I simply screamed with laugher; I found risible the times the same riff has been used in metal songs.

Also, there's a melody that I found too repetitive during all the song, and It's that one from "Strength Through Wounding". I think it would have better if that melody just was heard in certain moments and not in EVERY SECOND of the track. Who knows, maybe you find it pleasant, but it's something I needed to point out.

To finally conclude, "Leave No Path To Follow" is an immersive experience. If you like doom and black metal, you like this kind of black metal more oriented to the atmospheric aesthetic or is you simply want to listen to a dark record without neglecting the production, THIS is your album. I'm fortunate enough for having been able to get one of the 100 copies of its digipack edition, but it can be found in several streaming platforms, so you don't have an excuse for not giving it an opportunity.

P.D. I forgot to mention the great decision that was putting the Katatonia cover at the end of the album. Don't miss it.

Cold yet meaningful music - 100%

Akerthorpe, July 21st, 2020

Krigsgrav is quite an interesting band, but a hard one to define as far as genres go. With elements of death, doom, black, progressive and goth, the band takes extreme metal to a level attempted by many but achieved by few. “Leave No Path to Follow” is a soulless and agonizing trip to where life is depleted and the aftermath of such has free reign over the last shreds of sanity. There is an element to the way the music is played which leaves an undisputed feeling of misery and desolation. The tone and delivery of the material is reminiscent of bands like early Katatonia, Novembers Doom (only slower), Loss, Agathodaimon, Shining, and My Dying Bride presented with a blackened death metal edge. The solitude that this type of music invokes is the perfect example of audible art that reflects the deepest recesses of the human mind and soul. An escape, if you will, from the oppressive nature of humanity. Relatable in its fluency and its very foundation. These guys have found a way to make an even closer connection between music and emotion, the link of which is passion.

The cherry on top for this release is the cover of Katatonia’s “Brave”. Including this solidifies the mastery and legitimacy of this band and their talent. Sadly, this release is limited to 100 copies. But, as disappointing as that is, this CD is so good you can bet that somewhere down the road another label will pick this up for a larger release. This CD needs to be available to as many people as possible. For it to be limited to 100 copies is a disservice to the band and does not come close to showing the respect that this release deserves.

Another Pleasant Surprise - 83%

VanassHeluphicclo, April 3rd, 2020

Krigsgrav is an incredible black-doom band from Texas. Although their earlier work was true black metal, this release culminated in the vein of classic death-doom acts like Katatonia or Paradise Lost, interspersed with a bunch of post-metal melodies, in their most successful release ever, surpassing everything they had done before that release.

The artwork Luciana Nedelea did for this album is just beautiful and immediately threw me into the setting and atmosphere before I even had a chance to hear the first track. If the manifestation of doom metal had a material form, this album cover would certainly not be far from its look.

Although I'm not a big fan of intro tracks, the short instrumental track "Leave No Path To Follow" is quite tolerable and seems like a prophecy of the coming slow tempo melodies and the gloomy, melancholic atmosphere. After the pains of tolerating the into are over, we are exposed to the sheer power of the guitar sound. Each song is perfectly structured, whereby the sequence of melodies and their intended emotional value resembles more a fable than a collection of decent riffs. The melodic basic parts are mainly characterized by their simplicity, it's just incredible how much two simple notes can contribute to the atmosphere, and the second track "Strength Through Wounding" is a perfect example of how this structure is applied. You can't say that the main riffs don't have a doomy vibe, but one should still classify them as post-black metal. Some of the melodies and the "heavy" parts are just too memorable and with their unique structure, I could compare them to waves that hit the listener again and again. All in all, the band's guitarist, Justin Coleman, has proven that he has an incredible riff-writing ability, and the absurd amount of incredible material he has written cannot be described in its entirety.

Since this is an openly guitar-based band, I didn't necessarily expect an absolute mastery of drums, which is true for most parts of this release. Nevertheless, David Sikora, the drummer of the band, did a pretty decent job, taking advantage of the slow tempo with some very interesting ideas in the middle tempo sections. Overall the drums are strongly influenced by black metal and are played in a slower tempo, which makes them perfectly fitting to the atmosphere and sound dictated by the guitars.

The bass, on the other hand, is something I really enjoyed throughout the whole album. The basslines may be in the background, but they are still good enough to give the slow riffs the quality, sound incredibly heavy and occasionally lead to some headbanger tracks like "The End".

Justin may not be the best vocalist in extreme metal, but the repertoire of his raw, high-pitched screams, very much in the old, classic Black Metal style of the early nineties, and some deeper growls from the death-doom side of this release simply fit too well into the atmosphere of this album. There are even some clean vocals that are absorbed by the atmosphere, which is surprisingly pleasant and definitely suitable for fans of the newer stuff from Paradise Lost, although Krigsgrav doesn't use it as extensively.

The cover of Katatonia's "Brave" is the ending that this album needed. Mikael Akerfeldt's vocals are something that can't simply be recreated perfectly, but Justin's vocals gave this extremely well-done cover a certain Krigsgrav quality that fits the sound that makes this album so special.

I have been lucky enough to discover a number of incredible new bands lately, and with Krigsgrav the list is getting a bit longer. This album is a very sophisticated bundle of beautiful, melancholic melodies, followed by some post-metal highlights that reverse the darker parts in certain places. The atmosphere is not a constant, but evolves from riff to riff and takes you on a journey of auditory sensations, which are carried to extremes by the high art of metal music.

Lastly, there is nothing else to say except that this is a nearly perfect release from an extremely underrated band. Therefore I ask you to do a good thing for yourself and the society around you and start listening to this album.