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Graves of Valor - "Salarian Gate" (CD)

Graves of Valor - "Salarian Gate" CD cover image

"Salarian Gate" track listing:

1. Salarian Gate (3:26)
2. Suffocation Of The Last King (3:45)
3. Pestilence (3:34)
4. Bridles of Incitatus (3:25)
5. Sic Semper Tyrannis (3:00)
6. Letter On The Blind (1:02)
7. To Breathe Blood (3:29)
8. The Clever Ape (2:50)
9. Diderot (1:21)
10. Locusta (5:00)
11. No Gods Left (4:35)

Reviewed by on August 20, 2009

"A heavy album with tight musicianship and high production quality; however, there are flaws that make it a less than stellar record."

Featuring ex-members of Through the Eyes of the Dead, Graves of Valor makes their debut with “Salarian Gate,” a heavy album with tight musicianship and high production quality; however, there are flaws that make it a less than stellar record.

The album’s opening and titular track, “Salarian Gate,” is fast and brutal, but considerably generic, foreshadowing the album’s main problem. I could use fancy words to describe the blasting drums, crushing guitar work, and brutal vocals, but I won’t because the fact remains that this album is very mediocre; at times, downright boring.

Most of the songs don’t have anything that really stands out from the rest of the album (save for a few solos, particularly in "Locusta" and "Salarian Gate"). It sounds as though the band is trying for a Hate Eternal-esque sound (especially in the slower chugging parts that very nearly approach breakdowns, noticeable in "Bridles of Incitatus"), but doesn’t quite pull it off. The vocals are altered to sound crustier, but seem a little out of place next to the high production quality and tend to rob the vocals of any heaviness. The riffs are well played, but almost sound recycled from song to song.

There are also a few down-tempo intro tracks that don’t add much to the album. “Diderot” is acoustic strumming over some utterly unintelligible samples of some guy talking. I can see where the band is coming from with this track (attempting to create an atmospheric break in the album), but the fact that the sample is impossible to make out ruins the effect.

Graves of Valor has proven on this album that they can play their instruments well, with heavy guitar work, occasional sweep picking and solid drumming. Now the trick for them is to make it interesting. This album doesn’t do much of anything new in the realm of death metal; I would love to see the band’s next release push the limits a little bit.

Highs: Tight musicianship with high production quality.

Lows: Doesn't attempt to push any limits, mediocre in general.

Bottom line: An average death metal album that doesn't attempt anything new.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)