Saturday, October 26, 2013

Grave - Morbid Ascent

Morbid Ascent
Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

It’s almost twelve months to the day since Swedish (Stockholm based) death metal act Grave last gave us a full-length release in the form of 2012’s rather impressive ‘Endless Procession Of Souls’. In what can be best described as a release to tide fans over until the band release their official follow-up, Grave (Who comprises of vocalist/guitarist/producer/mixer Ola Lindgren, guitarist Mika Lagrén, bassist/backing vocalist Tobias Cristiansson and drummer Ronnie BergerstÃ¥hl) has decided to announce their return with the five track stop-gap E.P. ‘Morbid Ascent’.
Grave begin ‘Morbid Ascent’ with ‘Venial Sin’, which is one of the two new tracks featured on the E.P. In typical Grave fashion, ‘Venial Sin’ is delivered in truly brutal death metal fashion with Lindgren in fine form on the vocal front, and the rest of the band pulverising listeners into submission with the song’s infectious groove. As a song, ‘Venial Sin’ is every bit as solid as anything Grave have released in recent years, and the guest guitar solo contribution from Eric Cutler (Who is otherwise the front man for Californian death metal outfit Autopsy) certainly doesn’t hurt one bit at all.
The next track is the title track ‘Morbid Ascent’, which is the other new track on offer from the band, and is hands down the best track on the E.P. Although sounding every bit as brutal as the opener, what makes this track stand out so much is the doom-like passages that break up the speedier moments within the track towards its second half, and the overall epic/evil vibe that the slower passages help evoke towards the songs conclusion. In short, this track showcases Grave at their best.
The band’s cover of Satyricon’s ‘Possessed’ (Which originally appeared on 2002’s ‘Volcano’) is well done, and undoubtedly far heavier than the original, which means that while it’s a Satyricon song, Grave have well and truly done their best to make it their own.
Towards the tail end of the E.P., the band have included a ‘Risen From The Tomb’ remix of ‘Epos’ from their last album, which is around a minute and a half shorter than the original, and a little cleaner on the production side of things. Although the differences are noticeable, this remixed effort doesn’t add that much to the E.P., and is perhaps the one track on offer here that could be passed over after its initial run through.
Finishing up the E.P. is ‘Reality Of Life’, which is a re-recording of the same track that appeared on the band’s ‘Sexual Mutilation’ demo from 1989 (Which was re-released on ‘Necropsy - The Complete Demo Recordings 1986 – 1991’ compilation in 2011 through Century Media Records). Despite the song’s age, it stands up exceedingly well in its modern reworked form, and shows that while Grave haven’t changed much throughout the years, their song writing has always been of a high standard.
With a bit of the new, the old and a couple of surprises thrown in, ‘Morbid Ascent’ is a diverse and worthy offering to fans from the long running death metal outfit, and one that will no doubt tide fans over until Grave emerge with their next soul destroying full-length effort.

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© Justin Donnelly

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