Grá - _Helfärd_
(Sonicdeath Armageddon Records, 2010)
by: Mark Dolson (6 out of 10)
Hailing from Stockholm, Grá play old-school Swedish black metal somewhere between the likes of old Darkthrone (circa _Transylvanian Hunger_ and _Panzerfaust_) and, I would say, Vinterland. This is a pretty short EP, and consists of four tracks which clock in at just over 21 minutes. This isn't vastly boring stuff, but it's not super interesting either. Some of the songs have hints of a necrotised form of melody (i.e., cold, vast and open), while for the most part the riffs consist of your standard, non-melodic black metal variety. There's a lot of repetition on this EP, so if you're into old Burzum or Walknut (Russia), then check these guys out. Vocals are savage and distant-sounding, with a faint hint of echo (they remind me a little of Garm's approach on the Ulver's _Nattens Madrigal_).

When I received the CD, I have to admit that I liked the cover; and I was hopeful after having read the band's statement on the back of the CD, which says "_Helfärd_ is dedicated to the spirit that existed back in the '90s when Black Metal actually meant something". Since I've been a fan of black metal since 1992, this statement actually meant something to me. Well, at first anyways. After listening to the EP for six or seven times, things just get sort of monotonous. While the riffs are just OK in places (the repetitive riff in the last song is the best), the drumming is really one-dimensional; there's just nothing to keep my jaded attention here. Yes, I know, old-school black metal isn't supposed to feature flashy drums of any sort -- I understand. However, at least at add some fills here and there to keep things a little more interesting. Or, at the very least, write some killer riffs to offset the plain drumming (a la old Darkthrone).

If you're a die-hard fan of no-frills black metal played with a '90s flare, then check out Grá. As you've gleaned from the review thus far, though, if you're looking for something a little different, then just keep walking.


(article published 6/2/2011)

1/15/2012 D Lake 7 Grá - Grá
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