This nine track mini album comprises four meaty chunks of death/doom, a long Persian style interlude and four “Temples” full of dreamy spiritual sitar-led sounds. This is from a German band with a healthy back catalogue and a still healthier anti-Christian stance. It is from this first Temple that we go to “Black Bone Crucifix”. Big roars and crusty guitar output lead to vibrant death metal. It’s as infernal and dark as it should be, and has an interesting progression. Technically it’s very good and tight with strong control of pace. The vocalist growls deeply. Mechanical at source level, it’s well produced so lively layer upon lively layer of death metal fall out of it. “Black Bone Crucifix” is a good track with a great structure, even dropping into doom towards the end.
Temple II is unlike the first one. There are no more dreamy sounds. In fact it’s more like the sound of locusts as produced by the guitar. The track which follows, “Va Koram Do Rex Satan” has an old school feel and indeed is an old track, dating back to 2007. The result is something threatening and nasty. It lacks the subtlety of “Black Bone Crucifix”. But it’s good death metal, which again descends into doom while spreading out and expanding its malevolent claws. The band’s technical prowess comes to the fore again before returning to the pungent death metal. This precedes “Gate”, a long and evocative acoustic interlude in a Middle Eastern style. “Nine Graves” is an album of contrasts.
Another oldie, “Baptized by the Black Urine of the Deceased”, picks up the pace. The pattern is familiar: straight, driving death metal plunges into doom and this time the sound of ominous church bells. The vocalist growls darkly. After a break, the guitars take it away but the mood is maintained by the depth of sound and authority of the drum work. To the tune of the sitar, a deep voice utters a hymn in Latin. It is Temple III. The title track follows. “Nine Graves” is a traditional, driving death metal track. The guitar meanders its way through the dirty graves. The bass is prominent. “Temple IV” ends the 40 minute work. Its avant-garde and reflective Eastern sound is like a symbol of hot days. So obscure is it in the context of what has gone before that it’s like listening to a different album. But the whole experience of listening to “Nine Graves” is like that.
Interesting and technically proficient as this is, I found that the contrasts of “Nine Graves” stopped it from being joined up in any meaningful way. I liked what I heard and always appreciate ethnic sounds, moods and instruments but as an overall listening experience this was just too bits and pieces for me.
(6/10 Andrew Doherty)