Some underground bands manage to only throw out one release every few years, such is the nature of balancing work, life and a band that is labour of love/expensive hobby. Other bands somehow manage to be incredibly prolific, despite not having a budget the size of Immortal’s or Behemoth’s. Graveyard, from the jewel of Catalonia, Barcelona are a band that fall into the latter category. They have managed to spew out three full-length releases as well as a whole host of split EPs with other bands. This album is their third, and is positively oozing with dark, macabre creativity.
For an older Death Metal fan, this was an instant hit with me – there is plenty of grim, crushingly heavy, malevolently atmospheric death metal here. I can detect quite an influence of ancient Swedish Death Metal, and it really takes me back to those `Death Is Just The Beginning…’ compilations. I can hear plenty of punk-influenced drum beats, used by bands like Dismember and Entombed in the 90’s, as well as touches of classic Death. Another thing that takes me back to those ancient Death Metal compilations I spent many late hours listening to in freezing cold student accommodation is the sheer musical ambition here. Yes, Graveyard play essentially `old-school’ Death Metal, but they also manage to add a layer of epic majesty rarely seen. I remember some of those tracks by obscure bands and was often struck by the sheer creativity, and how each band had its own unique take on the death metal genre. Although I won’t go as far as to say that Graveyard are `totally unique’, I will say that they really bring back that feeling in me.
There are touches of keyboards here and there which bring a cinematic feel to some of the dark passages, as well as some truly rip-roaring riffing! There are plenty of nods to classic heavy metal, as well as touches of epic doom. They are not afraid of song dynamics, and each song is its own individual journey into darkness and mystery.
The production is pretty much perfect for this band and really brings out the mix of face-caving heaviness and ominous atmosphere. It really has all the hallmarks of what could have been a classic death metal album from the 90’s, with a better-balanced production (you can actually hear all the instruments – bass included!).
For fans of older death metal, this really does have everything; truly great, meaty riffs, dark and crushing atmosphere, epic songwriting, the occasional bombastic touch and bucket loads of feeling. It is very difficult not to headbang while listening to this album, in fact I very nearly nutted the kitchen table by accident while I was writing this review. There are creepy guitar solos, gargling, evil-sounding vocals, a smattering of sinister guitar harmonies, and it is just a pleasure to listen to. There are even eerie musical passages between songs, and with intriguing song titles, such as `Mine is the Shining Light’ and `The Womb of the Desert’ you can’t really go wrong.
(8.5/10 Jon Butlin)