Thursday, October 25, 2012

Grave - Endless Procession of Souls

Grave, one of the central pillars of the original Swedish death metal movement, have been cranking out records for over two decades. While Entombed have strayed from the path and Dismember have disbanded, Grave have stoutly carried on through the years. This summer saw their newest release, Endless Procession of Souls.

Anybody passingly familiar with Swedish death metal knows exactly what Grave sound like. If not from Grave themselves, then from one of the hundreds of clones wandering the metal world these days. Crunchy, compelling, monumentally heavy guitar riffs plow forward, backed by strong drumming and a beefy bottom end. The bellowed vocals are pretty standard fare, strong and aggressive but not particularly unique. Grave have always been a bit slower and doomier than their closest Swedish counterparts, and their music is often at its heaviest in the slowly churning sections of their songs where the low end can really come into play.

The reason why I've spent all my time so far just talking about how Grave sound in general is that if you understand all that then you understand exactly how this specific album sounds. It's a perfectly solid release, and I find it quite enjoyable. It doesn't break any new ground, though, so it's basically just another good solid Grave album that sounds just like you'd expect. When a band has been around this long, the only way for a new album to really stand out is either by doing something radically new, or by elevating the pre-existing formula to a new level. The latter has recently worked well for other classic acts like Unleashed and Vader, and like those bands Grave exists today as the vessel for its vocalist and sole original member. Unfortunately, unlike those bands, Grave's Ola Lindgren just wasn't able to tap into whatever mystical force has breathed renewed potency into Johnny Hedlund and Peter.

None of this is to say that there's anything bad or wrong in the new album. It's a strong, entertaining release that won't disappoint any fans and serves as another valid entry in the band's lengthy catalog of good death metal records. It just didn't make me sit up and take notice the way some other old masters have with their recent releases.

Grade: B+
Good, heavy, enjoyable Swedish death metal from one of the best established bands in the style.

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