Sunday Old School: Grave
Sweden is a country that often gets brought up in metal circles. The Scandinavian nation in between Norway and Finland has become known as one of the more liberal countries in the world, with a highly developed welfare state, one of the highest life expectancy and satisfaction rates in the world, a long list of famous names such as scientist Alfred Nobel, writer August Strindberg and one of cinema's most revered directors, Ingmar Bergman, as well as, quite frankly, one of the sexiest accents in Europe. So why then, with so much going for it, has the country developed such a talent for extreme music, death metal in particular? We may never know, but we can be grateful that they do, otherwise we wouldn't have such classic groups as today's featured outfit, Grave.
Grave as we know them, began life in 1986 under the name Corpse, in Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland. They recorded one demo, "Black Dawn" the same year before changing their moniker to the now familiar, Grave in 1988, in time for the release of their second demo, "Sick Disgust Eternal." They released a string of demos while building up a live reputation, which eventually caught the attention of German label Century Media, who signed the band in 1991 and included them on a compilation featuring some of the most exciting young bands of the time, including Asphyx and fellow Swedes, Unleashed and Tiamat.
It was also in 1991 that Grave released their debut full length album, "Into the Grave," which became a must have for death metal fans, particular those into the emerging Swedish sound which had been emerging around the time thanks to such debut albums from Entombed, Unleashed and Dismember. Though not regarded by many to be on the same level as albums from the previously mentioned bands, it nevertheless brought Grave the same recognition as their peers and led to a tour of Europe and North America.
Such touring proved too much for bass player Jonas Torndal, who quit the band after these jaunts and subsequently, the group recorded their sophomore album as a trio, with lead vocalist Jörgen Sandström switching from guitar to bass. The three recorded their sophomore album, "You'll Never See..." which was released only a year after their debut. It continued their growing reputation as one of Sweden's premier death metal groups and led to them teaming up with Dismember to tour Europe supporting American favourites, Morbid Angel.
In December 1993, Grave released the EP, "...and Here I Die...Satisfied," which contained a re-recording of the Corpse song, "Black Dawn," as well as a number of songs which were later released on their third album, "Soulless," which came out six months later. The album marked something of a departure for the group, as they brought in more experimental and industrial elements to their sound, along plenty of mid-tempo groove. This was their final album to feature Jörgen Sandström, who left the band in 1996, with guitarist Ola Lindgren taking over the position of vocalist.
The departure of Sandström forced the fourth Grave album, "Hating Life" to be recorded as a duo by Lindgren and drummer Jensa Paulsson. The result was a continuation of the sound heard on "Soulless," which, as expected, not all fans were happy about but nonetheless, was successful enough to spawn a follow up live album, "Extremely Rotten Live" in 1997 following tours of Europe and North America. Though things seemed to be going well for the band, they made the decision to go on hiatus in 1997.
In 1999, Lindgren and Paulsson reunited and began working on new Grave material, taking their time and recruiting new members Jonas Torndal on guitar and Fredrik Isaksson on bass. Eventually, they released a new album in October 2002, entitled appropriately enough, "Back From the Grave." The album was something of a bridge between "You Will Never See..." and "Soulless" and was followed by a box set, "Morbid Ways To Die," which was their last release with Paulsson, who quit the band before another album could be recorded, leaving Ola Lindgren as the sole original member.
Pelle Ekegren, of the band Coercion, was brought in as Paulsson's replacement and the quartet recorded their sixth album, "Fiendish Reggression" in 2004. It received some mixed reviews from critics but a generally positive response from fans and was promoted by a tour with Canadian death metal veterans, Cryptopsy. It was followed two years later by "As Rapture Comes," which featured a faster sound than the more recent albums and was notable for featuring a cover of the Alice In Chains classic, "Them Bones." They toured heavily in support of the album, teaming up with Dismember twice, once in North America along with Vital Remains and Withered and then as part of a dream lineup in Europe with fellow Swedish death metal legends Entombed and Unleashed, as well as Exterminator, before touring Europe again as direct support to Nile.
After the lengthy touring, Grave split with Ekegren and Torndal, bringing in Ronnie Bergerstahl on drums and recording their next album as a three piece. The album in question, "Dominion VIII" was released in 2008 to a generally positive response, due in part to its return to the sound of the early days of the band, which continued on their next record, "Burial Ground," which was released in 2010. It was their last album to include Isaksson, who left the band the same year and was replaced by Dismember's Tobias Cristiansson, while Grave also brought in a second guitarist named Mika Lagrén.
This lineup of the band has remained intact ever since, releasing the albums, "Endless Procession of Souls" in 2012 and most recently, "Out Of Respect For the Dead" in 2015. The band has remained strong throughout their lengthy career, already touring North America this year with Orphaned Land and appearing on the 70000 Tons of Metal cruise this year. Fans will no doubt be clamouring for another album soon, which will surely be another crushing display from one of the most prominent names in Swedish death metal.
Grave - "In Love"
Grave - "You'll Never See"
Grave - "Soulless"
Grave - "Sorrowfilled Moon"
Grave - "Thorn To Pieces"
Grave - "Breeder"
Grave - "Them Bones"
Grave - "A World In Darkness"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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