Graveland - _The Fire of Awakening_
(No Colours Records, 2003)
by: James Montague (9 out of 10)
A return to form for Graveland? Maybe not for people like myself, who thoroughly enjoyed Darken's work even as he sucked the adrenalin from the beast, with the sedate _Memory and Destiny_ rating as one of my favourites. But for those who thought the band would never rediscover the epic rage of _Thousand Swords_ or _Following the Voice of Blood_, this latest LP will be a pleasant surprise.

It's all in the titles, you see. _Memory and Destiny_... obviously the fella was in a state of deep nostalgia for that one. But now we've found the _Fire_, realised through more powerful, driving guitar lines. I must emphasise the word "driving" -- these guitar riffs are like a relentless push, a wave of horsemen urging you, the Pagan warrior, into the fray. Keyboards have definitely taken a back seat now -- they still pop up occasionally to express Darken's longing for the glory days, but his _Awakening_ is no longer just spiritual, it is also physical. Thus the guitars bear the brunt of his rediscovered anger, and the vocals have perked up too -- recently just a bitter old croaker, Darken is now growling and screaming, a vitriolic drool splattering his mighty warrior's beard. A further throwback to the days of _Thousand Swords_ is the lyrics -- no longer dreaming of the splendour of ancient times, Darken is now happy just to slay all those fuckin' Christians. The blood of Yahweh will once again slake the battlefield, and all is well in the land of Pagan fantasists!

Still retaining his rare knack for a stirring folkish melody, Darken has given himself a timely reminder that Graveland is, first and foremost, a metal band. _The Fire of Awakening_ sits proudly near the top of an extensive and magnificent repertoire, and should be a sure thing for anyone who appreciates folk-influenced black metal.


(article published 23/11/2003)

7/27/2007 J Montague 7.5 Graveland - Will Stronger Than Death
1/29/2006 T DePalma 7.5 Graveland - Fire Chariot of Destruction
5/9/2005 J Montague 8.5 Graveland - Dawn of Iron Blades
12/5/2003 J Montague 7 Graveland - Blood of Heroes
4/11/2003 M Noll 8 Graveland - Memory and Destiny
3/13/2001 A Wee 7 Graveland - Creed of Iron
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