Endless Procession Of Souls (Century Media)
Let me tell you how good of a band GRAVE is; They’re the kind of catchy, nasty, no-frilly laces Swedish Death Metal that almost made me want to go to the MORBID ANGEL/DARK FUNERAL show just to witness live. I very well could have, but I must be conservative with money, you see. GRAVE’s running not only on ten full-length albums, but associations with other legendary Swedeath bands like THERION (old, of course), ENTOMBED, and THE PROJECT HATE MCMXCIX, so yes, they have what may be called a career. Look ’em up on LinkedIn. The question that arises is, how does Endless Procession Of Souls measure up to everything else in the Death Metal scene after existing for over a quarter of a century?
It pains me to say it’s quite underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent album, packed to the bursting point with groovy headbangers, pooka-pooka-pooka circle pit bits, and classic slowdowns that will get a good zombie mosh going. Though these elements are used well by guys who clearly know their craft, they almost seem to be resting on their laurels and not trying their best anymore. For the first song or three, you’re finger-drumming along and whatnot, clearly diggin’ where it’s going, but by them time you’ve reached “Flesh Epistle”, you’re already wishing they’d either try something different or just begin eating each other.
One hearkens back to the Into The Grave, where they simply blazed through the album in an idiotic brutal frenzy, armed with can-of-bees production and guitars that sounded like gore soaked chainsaws, or Fiendish Regression, which saw them move in a slightly different direction from the standard Swedeath sound, while still maintaining what made GRAVE entertaining. Now, it just feels like something’s missing. Something that could ideally turn just another Swedish Death Metal album into a masterpiece that would re-claim their spot on the throne as the kings of all that is ugly in Sweden.
One glaring weakness is the vocals. Where the fuck did the intensity run off to? I’m guessing it was stolen by Travis Ryan of CATTLE DECAPITATION fame. While I’m not one to trash bands, AUTOPSY’s vocals, as far as I have been exposed to them, grate on my senses, and I feel like even I could have done a better job at the mic. GRAVE, while they’ve never had a bad vocal performance as far as I’m concerned, have done much better in the past, and it begs the question as to why Ola decided to neuter himself with the standard everyman style of Swedish Death Metal vocals that you’d probably hear on an UNLEASHED record.
Speaking of UNLEASHED, they get dangerously close to sounding like them on this record. UNLEASHED does what they do best, which is writing and playing songs about Vikings, war, Norse mythology, and evil stuff, who knows, really. GRAVE is just supposed to be all about death and rotting stuff. While the music is not entirely unsuitable for a zombie invasion (though I’d personally pick a better album that Endless Procession), the lyrics could easily be swapped out with nothing but tank bombardments and trench warfare. Not only is the music and atmosphere created uninspired, but they insist on using the same songwriting techniques over and over and over. How many times can you have every instrument cut out aside from the guitars to segue into a Thrashy part, or have a slowdown section with a random solo over it, or recycle the same punky Swedeath section that we all know by heart with a slightly different SLAYER police siren solo over it? Not enough times, if you ask GRAVE.
The highlights are few and far between, but the straight up Thrash section in “Perimortem”, as well as the consistenly doom-tinghed crawl of the closing track “Epos” are welcome change-ups from the endless procession of tired riffing and cut’n’paste drum patterns from the Swedish Death Metal handbook. While it’s still a well-produced bit of face-ripping from a band that was crucial in inventing the formula, the mediocre outweighs the good.
The verdict: It would be better with fresh ideas, more gore, and a production that made it sound like it was recorded in a tin shack dripping with fungus.
By Sean “That Black Metal Dude” Genovese
Thanks Cam. Y’know, I’ve decided since 5 seconds ago that I should catalogue a few of the most badass bands in various categories, because I feel I haven’t been paying enough attention to the Dude, and as a result, you pay less attention to me. It’s sad, and teetering on tragic but I’ll right it all and bring sunshine to Mordor. Manowar is not invited, so fuck you. Honourable Mentions are just the ones that came off the top of my head and are subject to change. Keep in mind, this is all opinion, but my opinion is as good as fact, so deal or die.
Names That Aren’t To Be Fucked With
The Winner: The Fucking Champs
Progressive Metal whenever they feel like it, Indie Rock by trade, whatever that means. Their name is sweet, and earns them top dog as the ballsiest name of all time. They’re so badass, in fact, they title their albums by number, and flipped off the conventional wordy kind.
Runner-Up: Lightning Swords Of Death
Lightning is manly. Swords are manly. Death is manly as a muhfucka. Mash ’em up and you get something chunky and effluent, but chock full of muscle-building protein. Black Metal that sounds like the inside of a motorcycle engine is not for girly girls.
Austrian Death Machine
The Winner: Asphyx – Deathhammer
“This is real Death Metal, ya bastards!”
Runner-Up: Judas Priest – Painkiller
Think your drum fill is awesome? Fuck you, ‘Priest did it better than anyone has or ever will.
Dragonforce – Black Winter Night
Morbid Angel – Dominate
Nunslaughter – Burning Away
Coffins – Cadaver Blood
Unleashed – Far Beyond Hell
Ideal Barfight BGM
The Winner: Motörhead – Runaround Man
Sing those bitches the blues.
Runner-Up: Entombed – Seeing Red
Being angry is cool.
Accept – Balls To The Wall
Volbeat – Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza.
Prong – The Banishment
Panzerbastard – Hell’s Gate
Down – Eyes of the South
Shed Those Manly Tears, Boy
The Winner: Stratovarius – Forever
Runner-Up: Devin Townsend – Hyperdrive
Dark Tranquillity – Fabric
All Shall Perish – Awaken The Dreamers
Thou – Acceptance
Officium Triste – The Silent Witness
Cynic – King Of Those Who Know
Shai Hulud – Solely Concentrating On The Negative Aspects Of Life
Album Covers For The Hairy
The Winner: Amon Amarth – Twilight Of The Gods
Simply looking at this illustration of Thor mercilessly giving Jörmungandr a taste of the business with Mjolnir for 5 seconds grows you several more facial hairs. Regardless of gender.
Runner-Up: Bolt Thrower – War Master
Yes, that man’s stance is not appropriate for battle, but he should care why?
Pantera – Vulgar Display Of Power
Anal Cunt – Fuckin’ A
Belphegor – Lucifer Insestus
Type O Negative – Dead Again
Altar – Provoke
The Winner: EyeHateGod – My Name Is God (I Hate You)
This song makes me want to bang my head against the table I’m sitting at until I at least have several hairline fractures and a nosebleed.
Runner-Up: I Declare War – New Age Holocaust
Beating Your Best Friend With A Shovel-core
Ancient Filth – Ancient Filth
Municipal Waste – Upside-Down Church
Abacinate – By The Righteous Hands
The Red Chord – Demoralizer
Devourment – Incitement To Mass Murder
And now we move on to the Battle Hymns. You’ll notice that I’ve left out all traces of Symphonic stuff, because that’d be too obvious and bloodless. Instead, here’s stuff to actually kill to.
Battle Hymns (Metal)
1. Iron Maiden – Invaders
First Iron Maiden song I had ever heard. Damn good for ransacking that unsuspecting savage village in the Andes!
2. The Haunted – No Compromise
If you bought rEVOLVEr, you paid only for this song and none of the others.
3. Misery Index – The Seventh Cavalry
the Hans Zimmerman of Metal. Yes, I’m putting them above the Symphonic bands.
4. Unleashed – Blood of Lies
Someone appoint Johnny Hedlund to Secretary of War, if such a position exists in Sweden.
5. Exhumed – Casketkrusher
What Berserkers listen to after a relaxing bloodbath.
Battle Hymns (-core/Punk)
1. Trap Them – Manic In The Grips
If you’ve got Trap Them on your side in a fight, you’ll not need more than a minute to finish the clown who stepped to you on the BBall court.
2. American Me – Flybag
Beatdown belongs here, not on your knuckles.
3. Have Heart – About Face
if only they’d about face from being broken up.
4. Ramlord – First Breath//Last Breath
It even starts out with a howl for added spice.
5. Leftöver Crack – Atheist Anthem
The Manliest Men Of Metal. Mmm.
Also known as the “Iron Man” or “GERONIMO!”, which I’m going to start calling him since he hasn’t died or suffered permanent injury due to his timelessly dangerous stage antics, which include jumping off of stacks of amps, hanging from rafters while playing guitar, jumping into the crowd with reckless abandon, and all manner of acrobatics, without missing a single note. Such a lack of regard for his own safety earns him a place in the Manly Hall Of Fame.
The Dillinger Escape Plan may not be Metal, but Ben must be made of adamantium.
This guy lives in a cabin in the woods. In Norway. That’s all I need to say.
The man is 66 years old, plays in one of the biggest and longest running Metal bands currently existing, perfected the art of connecting a handlebar mustache to muttonchops, has more virility in his forearm than a fit man my age despite smoking and drinking nonstop, has a voice that could tear the flesh off a callused rhinocerous and the face of a stoned troll, yet still somehow gets laid consistently on Rock’n’Roll merit alone. This is why he is, quite predictably, the number one contender for Manliest Man in Metal. You are now dismissed.
We can finally stick a fork in this shitshow of an awards ceremony. No band members even showed up despite my inviting them over facebook wall posts and a promise of free candy with a side of sex. I’ll never repeat it again, and I bid you never speak of it as long as you live.
Alright, first post… I’ll think of something to put here later. For now, enjoy this.