Saturday, September 15, 2012

Grave - Into the Grave


Yes, this is the legendary Grave album you keep hearing about. The reason why I usually don’t like reviewing albums like these is because I’ll end up just giving it an extremely high score just because of its status and amount of influence. Well, I’m going to review this album like I would any other album without letting its status influence my opinion, because it’s a damn good record anyways. As most of you know, 1991 was a major hotspot for the death metal genre, especially when it comes to bands’ debuts. For those of you that aren’t aware of that, some of the most legendary death metal and brutal death bands released their first album in 1991. Some of those include Edge of Sanity, Dismember, Immolation, Suffocation, Malevolent Creation, and the band that we are going to discuss today: Grave.

After releasing a few demos and an EP, Grave got their name out in the European death metal world enough to get a contract with the (at the time) very young record label, Century Media. The label saw the band as being the outcasts in the Swedish death metal scene with their much darker and atmospheric sound. When I listen to a lot of these really old death metal bands from Sweden, they all seem to have the same type of material: some of the songs are the really fast and crunchy death metal sounding-stuff that most people know, and then the others are really slow and pull you down to the darkest pits of the death metal sound. Neither of those perfectly describes Grave. In their first two albums, Grave had probably what was one of THE darkest sounds at the time, fairly (but not completely) consistent and predictable tempos, and purely crushing brutality with just a hint of thrash metal-influenced groove.

There are only a small handful of death metal vocalists that could be considered the deepest and most guttural vocalists at the time, and this guy is one of them. There is no voice that can be heard (as opposed to David Vincent, Glen Benton, and Peter from Vader) in the growls on this album, they’re just pure horrifying guttural darkness that sends chills through the spines of the weak. The voice of this demon that has arisen from the pits of hell sits on a support system that has an oily and rough sound. The extremely crunchy guitars are as sharp and gritty as a saw blade, but flow through the rest of the sound like lubricant. The bass guitar has almost as much distortion as the guitars, but the edginess of the treble that the distortion brings is removed in order to enhance the intense (unbearable for some) amount of bass that the drums create.

The only sounds that the drums create that aren’t filled with explosive bass occur when the cymbals and the snare are hit. If you have shitty speakers, the kick drums are just going to sound like weak clicks; but if you have anything that could even be considered as having “average” sound, there is no escaping this one, man. The extensive skill of the musicianship of this album makes me doubt that this was actually Grave’s FIRST album. I mean, they had only been around for four years or so when they released this thing, there are very few cases where the SKILL and MUSICIANSHIP (not the creativity) is as high quality as THIS! I’m serious! Even though Death’s Scream Bloody Gore is filled with an indescribable amount of creativity and power, let’s face it, they kind of sucked at their instruments; they weren’t anywhere NEAR as good at their instruments as they were in Leprosy, Human, and all of their other albums (except for Spiritual Healing). Of course, this probably means that the recording process of this album was longer than usual due to the group of perfectionists that we all know as Grave.

Although the actual composition is different with each song, the whole album pretty much sounds the same. But the fact that each song has a different set of chord progressions and vocal patterns makes up for that monotony, therefore keeping the listener in a merciless grip that doesn’t get old. Although Cannibal Corpse’s Butchered at Birth outshined Into the Grave as being the single most brutal album of 1991, the sheer brutality of this record shouldn’t be left unheard and unrecognized. This is an ESSENTIAL for anyone who even WANTS to say that they know shit about the history of one of the greatest musical genres in history. I would give this pure death metal release 18/20.