Grave – Burial Ground
Release Date: 2010Jun14 (US)
Label: Regain Records
Grave are nothing if not consistent. Not only have they helped write the book on Swedish death metal, they are in the same longship as groups like Unleashed, who have persevered well through the decades. Both bands kick expectation square in the nuts, retaining familiarity but not breeding contempt within the listener.
Don’t fret––Grave still has disdain to spare. Much of their attack is directed at religion in one way (“Dismembered Mind”) or another (“Ridden with Belief”), with gore and self-examination occasionally surfacing, but always with the purpose of questioning, rather than forcing belief. They work with a limited palette that is still seemingly boundless, finding new ways to blend into light and shade, whether charging ahead full steam (“Liberation”) or deliberately pacing themselves (“Conqueror”).
Guest musicians surface throughout Burial Ground. The first is the return of Dismember vocalist Matti Kärki, who pens lyrics to––you guessed it––“Dismembered Mind”. But the guitar solo that Karl Sanders (Nile) contributes to “Bloodtrail” was a welcome surprise. Sometimes you need those when you’ve been writing music for well over twenty years.
I do like the familiar trails they blazed since their last album, Dominion VIII: Kärki as co-writer for one track, a re-recording of an old tune (in this case, “Sexual Mutilation”), and concluding with the album’s longest songs/title tracks (“8th Dominion” is close enough for the comparison). They have also managed to hang onto Ronnie Bergerståhl behind the drumkit, forming a solid backbone with Fredda Isaksson’s bass. But it is Ola Lindgren’s solid riffing and throaty roar that have been there since day one, and is still their most recognizable aspect.
When mediocre bands inch their evolution forward, the result is tediously agonizing for those that have the misfortune to hear. But when you have classic masters––still forging their legacy, and not merely riding their own coattails in some bizarre metallic mobius strip––the result is just this good.
Try: 1, 3, 5, 8, 9
02. Semblance in Black
03. Dismembered Mind
04. Ridden With Belief
07. Sexual Mutilation
09. Burial Ground