"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Earthen Grave - "Earthen Grave" (CD)

Earthen Grave - "Earthen Grave" CD cover image

"Earthen Grave" track listing:

1. Earthen Grave
2. Life Carries On
3. Burning a Sinner (Witchfinder General cover)
4. Blood Drunk
5. Dismal Times
6. Tilted World
7. Beneath a Shovel Load
8. Fall in
9. Relentless (Pentagram cover)
10. Death On the High Seas

Reviewed by on July 25, 2012

"'Earthen Grave' is a modern doom metal classic that will live beyond a mere best-of-the-year bestowing."

Chicago, Illinois boasts over 30 years of doom metal masterpieces. The Windy City has produced such genre-defining artists as Pentagram, Trouble and Novembers Doom. Earthen Grave lists Ron Holzner (bass), the former Trouble and Novembers Doom player, among its line-up, so expect a slight residue left from those artists. Additionally, Earthen Grave pays homage to Pentagram with a cover of “Relentless,” as well as covering “Burning a Sinner” from England’s witch trial fanatics Witchfinder General.

There is no denying the influence traditional doom, especially Chicago doom, has on Earthen Grave. However, the group doesn’t merely parrot the efforts of others on its self-titled full-length debut. Talented musicians understand there is more to making an album than following the beats, chords and tuning of others. Earthen Grave subscribes to the trudging pace of doom, but without beating the same three chords to death.

Grandiose riffs appear throughout the album, but at the best location for an emotional breakage or to provide a bottom to a downward spiral. The title track and “Blood Drunk” exemplify the band’s ability to interweave soft and quiet passages with hard and loud parts, which outlines the true essence of each part, rather than taking a sole feeling, monotone approach. Stylistic changes found in the thrashy, speed metal transitions of “Death on the High Seas” and the NWOBHM-geared gallops on “Blood Drunk” show the group isn’t confined to a single guitar sound.

Mark Weiner’s vocals and Rachel Barton Pine’s violin play key roles in the direction each song takes. Again, the group doesn’t over use these instruments. Weiner’s voice is perfectly mixed so he doesn’t take away from his mates instruments, but it stands out to the point where the listener can hear every word. Whether he’s softly crooning or pushing the wind out of his lungs with Danzig-like force, Weiner knows how to carry a tune.

Of course, this being a doom metal album, the violin is going to draw comparisons to My Dying Bride, which is not a bad thing. Often, the violin conjures up similar feelings. Her violin accentuates the building of action on the chorus to their cover of “Burning a Sinner.” Her skill separates herself from My Dying Bride’s Martin Powell; she does not just play slow and mournful, but Pine can also shred. She even trades off leads with guitarists Jason Muxlow and Tony Spillman.

Many of the tracks are not new; they were first pressed to wax on the group’s “Dismal Times” demo, which received much accolades of its own. The full-length version with its new material should find a much larger audience. Earthen Graves deserves their music in front of the masses because their first LP is a rare recording with no filler. Simply put, “Earthen Grave” is a modern doom metal classic that will live beyond a mere best-of-the-year bestowing.

Highs: Huge riffs, sorrowful violin and melancholy vocals

Lows: Most of these songs have already been released on the group's 2009 demo.

Bottom line: A juggernaut of a doom metal record for fans of My Dying Bride, Danzig and Candlemass.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)