Grave - _Burial Ground_
(Regain Records, 2010)
by: Mark Dolson (5.5 out of 10)
After having been an avid collector of cassette tapes from the mid '80s through the early '90s, I was definitely a latecomer to the world of CDs. On the topic of cassettes (if you'll permit me this brief aside), I had this really bad looking beige and brown cassette carrying case -- something that looked like it was right out of 1983 -- that held a maximum of something like 30 tapes. Inside you'd find everything from Paradise Lost's _Lost Paradise_, Loudblast's _Disincarnate_, Voivod's _Nothingface_, Nuclear Assault's _Survive_, and Desultory's _Into Eternity_, among other metal gems. So, where on earth am I going with this? It was during the last week of July 1993 that I turned my back on tapes and bought my very first CD ever. And what, pray tell, was this CD? Well, it was none other than Grave's mighty _Into the Grave_. A few of my friends had been into Grave's debut for quite some time (remember, this album was released in 1991), so I was pretty slow to discover them for myself.

I liked this album to a certain extent; however, a major sticking point with me was the fact that there was little variation in structures other than a steady thrash beat accompanied by scads of the then standard tremolo picking. As well, there seemed to be a paucity of memorable riffs -- especially when compared to their country mates Dismember and Entombed. With each consecutive release after _Into the Grave_, though, whether it be _You'll Never See_ (1992), _Soulless_ (1994), _Hating Life (1996)_, or any of the albums after their 2002 comeback, I have to admit that I've had trouble getting into Grave's approach to death metal. Well, to be honest, I really liked the _And Here I Die Satisfied_ EP from 1993, but that's pretty much it, unfortunately.

And so, bringing us into the present now, what do we have in store for us with Grave's latest offering, _Burial Ground_? Well, to be honest, in terms of changes, there aren't a whole lot on display here. This is still Grave through and through. You can still expect heavy, chugging down-tuned guitars, complete with waves of tremolo picking pitching and yawing all over the place. Things do slow down quite a bit in some songs, which adds a very doomy feel to them (check out the last quarter of "Dismembered Mind" and "Burial Ground" to see what I mean). Ronnie Bergerstål's drumming is pretty standard for the field -- it's solid, definitely, but there's nothing really outstanding going on here. Fredda Isaksson's bass playing, much like the four previous albums he's been featured on, is low in the mix, and therefore fairly inaudible. And then we have Ola Lindgren's vocals, which are pretty much exactly the same, in terms of register and delivery, as they were on the last album, _Dominion VIII_. Also, the production to me is quite similar to the aforementioned album: it's dry, flat, and pretty lifeless, actually. I think this approach to the production aesthetic and mix definitely works for black metal, but in death metal (and this is just my opinion), you need a full and dynamic production, enough to cover the breadth and tone of every instrument in all of their intended heaviness.

Now, there are a few surprises offered here, though they're sadly not in the songwriting / structure / arrangement department. On track eight, the second last track on the album, Karl Sanders of Nile fame has contributed a brief but interesting guitar solo. And, as with _Dominion VIII_, Matti Kärki, the long-running vocalist of Dismember, has written the lyrics for one song (aptly titled "Dismembered Mind"). Other than these minimal incentives, there's really not a whole lot for me to praise here. In fact, three songs in I found myself getting a little bored. I just feel that there is really very little variation between the last three albums Grave has released. Sure _As Rapture Comes_ might sound a little heavier than the rest, but that's because of its beefier production. I think what really gets me is that Ola Lindgren has done nothing to change up his vocal delivery since _Hating Life_; and because of this, I'm just left thinking that the last three albums sort of blend into one another in terms of really memorable songs. Despite these critiques, though, _Burial Ground_ most definitely features some very well played "old-school" style death metal; and, if this is your thing, make sure to check it out.

Contact: http://www.myspace.com/gravespace

(article published 7/28/2010)


CHATS
8/12/1996 G Filicetti Grave: Digging Graves and Hating It
ALBUMS
7/20/2006 J Smit 7.5 Grave - As Rapture Comes
3/31/2005 J Montague 4 Grave - Fiendish Regression
5/29/2003 M Noll 7 Grave - Back From the Grave
1/1/1998 A Wasylyk 5 Grave - Extremely Rotten Live
6/9/1996 A Wasylyk 6 Grave - Hating Life
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