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Grave - "Burial Ground" (CD)

Grave - "Burial Ground" CD cover image

"Burial Ground" track listing:

1. Liberation (3.40)
2. Semblance in Black (4.20)
3. Dismembered Mind (6.05)
4. Ridden With Belief (4.06)
5. Conquerer (4.45)
6. Outcast (3.40)
7. Sexual Mutilation (4.02)
8. Bloodtrail (4.05)
9. Burial Ground (7.23)

Reviewed by on July 29, 2010

"Nothing can match their early output, but it’s good to see that a band like Grave is still around delivering their message of gore and evil to the masses."

After twenty-plus years and nine full-length albums, Swedish death metal band Grave seems content with sticking to the basics on their latest album, “Burial Ground.” This is a band that doesn’t fancy themselves to the modern techniques of recording and performing. “Burial Ground” is a rewind to the days where death metal ruled over the underground with a bloody fist. This is the type of album that the mainstream metal scene will shun as outdated, which isn’t entirely false. It’s clear that the band has found a comfort zone that they only tip-toe out of on occasion. While Grave has not slowed down with age, there is a sense of trepidation to really cut loose when things get hairy and dangerous.

“Outcast” is an example of this predicament that Grave gets stuck in. A promising start, with plenty of blistering riffs, abruptly switches directions with a plodding breakdown dead center in the song. It’s a momentum-killer and a songwriting trait that the band uses many times on “Burial Ground.” When plopped in the midst of a hectic section, the whole album comes to a stand-still, as the listener impatiently waits for the song to kick into high gear again. The doom-ish pace is only effective on the longer compositions such as “Dismembered Mind” and the closing title track.

The best moments on “Burial Ground” are when the band sacrifices melody for unmitigated brutality. “Liberation” has fire under its belly that never dissipates, maintained by screeching whammy-bar guitar leads. “Sexual Mutilation” has a riff tailor-made to snap necks and cause intense cramping of the skull from all the head-banging. A notable special guest musician is Nile guitarist Karl Sanders, who drops by to lend a hand with a killer solo on the aptly-titled “Bloodtrail.”

Throughout the years, the only consistent member has been vocalist/guitarist Ola Lindgren. The current line-up of Grave has been around for about three albums, so at this point, their chemistry has really synced up. The band is comprised of tight performers, though the production on the album is a hindrance. The bass is inaudible and the double bass drums are mixed too low, as the lightning-quick guitars are overpowering over the rest of the instruments.

“Burial Ground” is a solid, if unspectacular, death metal album from a band that has seen and done it all in the genre. The lack of innovation is disappointing, though the band does work well within the confines that they have created over the past few albums. Fans of the band should be satisfied with the throwback to the 90’s that Grave seems to revel in, while newcomers will be impressed with the band’s determination to stick to their guns after two decades. Nothing can match their early output, but it’s good to see that a band like Grave is still around delivering their message of gore and evil to the masses.

Highs: Grave has the classic death metal sound down to a tee, brutal moments on "Liberation" and "Sexual Mutilation," guest solo from Nile's Karl Sanders

Lows: Weak production, no clear innovation, too many slow sections plopped into faster songs

Bottom line: Formulaic death metal delivered with the appropriate amount of skill and aggression.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)