Grave – Morbid Ascent EP (Century Media)

Friday, 6th September 2013
Rating: 8/10

Now cast in a more revered light given Entombed’s lack of productivity, Dismember’s breakup, and Unleashed’s creative plateau, Sweden’s Grave have quietly become Stockholm’s lead dog when it comes to vintage death metal. Their 2012 Endless Procession of Souls received glowing praise for its brutalized catchiness, the sort that wasn’t completely evident on You’ll Never See or Soulless, but not quite fully realized until now. The trim Morbid Ascent EP follows that general convention in the form of five songs.

Comprised of five tunes (three new; one remix, and one cover), Morbid Ascent presents a wide spread of what Grave is capable of, and more importantly, do well. The speedier “Venial Sin” might be a tad on the lukewarm side, but the thrashing title track reaps the benefit of those infamously gnarled guitars, coinciding with a very To Mega Therion-like guitar solo section. A cover of Satyricon’s “Possessed” is far and away the coolest thing about Morbid Ascent. Given that a death metal band covering a black metal band is about a common of an occurrence as a keyboard on a Mayhem album, “Possessed” shows off Satyr’s hidden death metal roots, with Grave taking the song’s ingrained groove to a new level.

A remix of “Epos” (which appears on Endless Possession of Souls) and the grinding “Reality of Life” round the EP, showing that Grave have a lot more life left in them than a lot of us thought…especially DR. Maybe it’s time to re-examine the ‘ole back catalog, eh?

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