Grave – Out of Respect For the Dead (Century Media)Sunday, 4th October 2015
Stalwart to the death metal movement, Sweden’s Grave endure because of their steadfast desire to be nothing beyond their initial vision: brutal yet catchy in their riffing and tempos. Out of the Respect For the Dead is the group’s eleventh studio album – and you rarely get to see any band of this sub-genre hit double digits because of the numerous circumstances necessary to be vital, successful, and relevant that long. Having a 5 year break from 1997-2001 probably helps the cause, as out of the original Swedish death ‘four’, only Unleashed and Grave didn’t veer far from their origins and remain alive in 2015 (Dismember extinct and Entombed shifting to death/roll or splitting into different factions).
What does this mean when listeners press play on this 9 song go around? The quartet serve up a thick, evil guitar tone that intertwines with mostly mid-tempo or slightly slower drumming, as Ola Lindgren’s somber screams and fearsome growls convey anguish, aggression, and despair. Occasionally the speedier side rears itself upon the riff cauldron, as opener “Mass Grave Mass” should get pits abuzz in a Slayer-esque fashion. Drummer Ronnie Bergerstahl can comfortably move from forceful speedy snare hits to this quarter time, double bass infused heaviness, recalling the early Florida scene on the crushing “The Omnious ‘They’”.
Will the soloing ever win technical awards? Probably not- Grave preferring to let the breaks give excitement and atmosphere over anything that could put people on stun mode. Tribal traits make “Trail of Ungodly Trades” another relevant arrangement, the chord combinations from Lindgren and fellow guitarist Mika Lagrén a cat and mouse chase as they trill up and down the fretboard, while the almost ten minute closer “Grotesque Glory” combines their doomy and speed sides, a true roller coaster ride that the group rarely explore and should consider more on future albums.
Into the Grave and Dominion VIII remain benchmarks in Grave’s potent discography. This album isn’t quite to that standard, but it’s certainly worthy of most death metallers brain and body engagement.