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Grave - "Endless Procession Of Souls" (CD)

Grave - "Endless Procession Of Souls" CD cover image

"Endless Procession Of Souls" track listing:

1. Dystopia
2. Amongst Marble and the Dead
3. Disembodied Steps
4. Flesh Epistle
5. Passion of the Weak
6. Winds of Chains
7. Encountering the Divine
8. Perimortem
9. Plague of Nations
10. Epos

Reviewed by on August 27, 2012

"Other veteran style-definers have left their classic sounds buried in inches of dust. Grave embraces the past with open arms, albeit arms comprised of 'extremely rotten flesh.'"

“Endless Procession of Souls” marks the tenth studio album for Swedish death metal trail blazers, Grave. Once groups reach a pinnacle such as Grave—nearly a quarter century of history and a double-digit discography—they feel the need to expand their horizons. Other veteran style-definers have left their classic sounds buried in inches of dust. Grave embraces the past with open arms, albeit arms comprised of “extremely rotten flesh.” “Into the Grave,” “You’ll Never See…,” and “Soulless”—Grave’s first three full-length recordings—have remained units of measurement for several generations of new death metal bands to follow. New bands spring up every day citing Grave as inspiration, which explains why these albums still play a significant role in Grave’s sound two decades after their construction.

“Soulless” is one of the bleached-bone discoveries Grave exhumes on “Endless Procession of Souls.” Even though that third album saw them lose the subterranean voice of Jörgen Sandström to Entombed, it was their breakout album. While number ten is not as accessible as number three in terms of song writing, “Endless Procession of Souls” revisits many of the catchy patterns and rhythms of “Soulless.” This influence shows its bloated, beetle-eaten face around the 1:30 mark of the first proper track “Amongst Marble and the Dead.” Ola Lindgren draws out each word with deliberation over top of ringing, acidic-burning guitar chords. Trudging paces mark most of this track, as well as the album, but mid-pace transitions maintain a sense of flow.

Predictable arraignments are one of the many aspects that make Grave releases enjoyable. You know the transition is coming, but it never fails to amaze when it arrives. Slow beats build momentum to the point when the energy needs a speedy release, which they often provide with a single-guitar breakdown that provides a short glimpse of the mayhem to come. They took that approach on one of their classic tracks “Hating Life” and they do it here on tracks such as “Winds of Chains” and “Disembodied Steps.” This technique works because it outlines their coarse guitar tones. “Encountering the Divine” highlights squealing, pedal-created sounds that become a hallmark of the album. Grave also gives a nod to the bands that came before them. “Perimortem” contains atypical thrash-y rhythms for the band. The opening segment of “Flesh Epistle” presents a grittier Celtic Frost.

Buying a Grave album is akin to buying a Big Mac; you know what you’re getting before buying it. Steadfast fans of the group will not run through their village yelling “eureka” about “Endless Procession of Souls.” The thrill of discovery is over, but take comfort in familiarity.

Highs: Grave is solid all around, from vocals to guitar tones to compositions.

Lows: Don't expect to be wowed by the album's originality.

Bottom line: "Endless Procession of Souls" is old-school death metal with few surprises.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)