Grá - _Grá _
(Unexploded Records, 2011)
by: Dan Lake (7 out of 10)
I just heard another good black metal record. From Sweden. Know how many that makes, this year alone? Neither do I. Enough that I start to worry that the difference between a good black metal record and a great black metal record mostly depends on my mood. I hope that's not the case, but yeah, I worry.

I like Grá. I like the chords as they tremolize my ears (and occasionally my vision). I like the drummer's ability to slam in with blasting and double bass, then draw back into a steadier middle pace and just let things rock a little bit. I like the strep-throated strangle-victim croaking that haunts the upper middle section of the mix. I like the underlying buzz of overworked rhythm guitars that fills up the pockets of aural void between the notes and the beats. I like the understated, rustic line etchings of the cover art. I like the stones it takes to write quiet moments that contribute to the album arc rather than bleed momentum, and I like the ambition it takes to hang a 9+ minute statement out in the last third of an album whose songs average somewhere in the four-minute zone. Frankly, I like that I could relax to such a consistent album without fear of being harshed by overdramatized dynamic twists. I mean, who knows what that vinyl-to-digital state-church hymn with emphysema accompaniment is about on the eleventh track, but other than that.

Is it wrong for a band to just be good without needing to be hyped as essential? Grá have put their hearts in the right place, and probably the hearts of various sacrificial beasts as well, and surely we can applaud that, politely at least if not emphatically. It's true that "great" might be on a different record, but Grá have provided us nearly an hour of "perfectly alright".


(article published 15/1/2012)

2/6/2011 M Dolson 6 Grá - Helfärd
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