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Grave - Out Of Respect For The Dead

Apoch_Weiss   (135 reviews)

Posted: 12/17/2015 | Comments: 1 | Rate:

Any fan of the Swedish death metal world knows exactly who Grave are. Since their birth in 1988, this has been one of the primary exports for that country. However, nearly every album has had a mixed reaction, though rarely anything too negative. 2012 saw their tenth full-length album, Endless Procession of Souls, drop through Century Media Records, and it was met with the most praise the band has probably seen for one particular release. Even the Morbid Ascent EP a year later did surprisingly well with fans and critics alike. However, it's now 2015, and we're staring at their eleventh album, Out of Respect for the Dead. But does Grave drop the ball, or does it send the fans into yet another massive metal feeding frenzy?

For the most part, Out of Respect for the Dead sounds like the last word of its title. The signature deep tuning on the guitars is present, all handled with a fairly simplified Obituary styled death metal undertone and plenty of simplified segments that sound like material we've all heard over and over again. This isn't a bad album overall, but somewhere along the line, this effort developed a severe case of narcolepsy. One moment you're given a strong dose of aggression that is catchy for what it is, the next a slow-moving slam that in no way has the bite necessary to even make the listener bat an eye with how bored everything sounds at those times, especially the drums.

"Intro / Mass Graves Mass" hits the spot by the one minute mark, but is a good example of that very narcoleptic issue. It's a rich performance with a suiting drum presence behind the strong supporting bass riffs. There's plenty of excitement right out the gate, though by the half way point starts to lose steam. What would be a decent slam quickly turns into a mild one after the promise of a hypnotic rhythm. As the speed slows leading into the guitar solo, it all just becomes fairly stagnant, killing time until thrusting the abrasive main verses back at the listener. Sadly, by then, the damage has been done, and it becomes a struggle to get back into the swing of things once more.

"Redeemed Through Hate" simply stands as that straight forward in-your-face slab of death metal we've come to know and love about Grave. The guitars have a thinner distortion, one that is meant to be a bit sharper, and it works for what hostility is presented. Even when things slow down by the half way point, the bass manages to shine through, enveloping the listener in a mildly dank underground crypt, leaving him/her to crawl along to the obedient crashes and foreboding hooks that follow. While not as demanding, "Trail of Ungodly Trades" brings in a little more complexity to the chords, though it takes a backseat as you approach four minutes in. Decent grooves with a solid fill from the drum kit wrap things up in a way that removes the bite and adrenaline established until it fades out. Sadly, this is not the only time the compositions become questionable.

"Out of Respect for the Dead" also slams into action right away with infectious hooks torn straight out of the band's Swedish death metal world. Blunt distortions and a stronger bass presence supporting those riffs lends much more life than some of the earlier cuts could dream of allowing, even though the drums are still fairly stagnant at times. By the slam just past two minutes, it sometimes sounds as though drummer Ronnie Bergerståhl was nearly falling asleep behind the kit waiting for the brief surge of excitement of the guitar solo that wraps the performance. There's also a hint of that regional influence to "Deified", though references to Bolt Thrower could also be made in some spots. However, unlike the previous track, this one carries a bit of hardcore attitude to the chorus that works surprisingly well thanks to some well executed transitions.

Out of Respect for the Dead honestly just sounds like if Autopsy and Deceased had joined forces, which, surprisingly, isn't all that it's cracked up to be all the time as far as Grave's approach goes. In fact, the creepiness and subtle harmonies intertwined with b-grade horror themes and slams actually makes this effort sound incredibly cheesy. Instead of doing what Grave does best, this quartet basically created your standard death metal album with some swedish flair that we've all heard before, leaving "Redeemed Through Hate" the only legitimately memorable performance. This isn't to say the rest of the songs are bad, but they do end up sounding bland, a bit misguided, or even like certain musicians were falling asleep in the studio, all of which could be either the quality of the music, the production and/or mastering, or perhaps even both. Out of Respect for the Dead sounds like nothing more than an uninspiring cover album that it actually isn't, stuffed to the brim with filler material that the band wouldn't have even tracked into the studio on the bottom of their shoe during their previous few albums, especially their 2012 session.

Review originally posted at Apoch's Metal Review.

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