posted on 6/2008 By:
Of late, I seem to be saying this constantly: I love Swedish death metal. I'm repeating myself in a few reviews, I'm aware, but damn it, it's true, whether you like it or not. I love Swedish death metal. Entombed... Dismember... Unleashed... Grave... More so than Florida's classic acts or New York's brutality, more so than my other beloved death metal luminaries--Germany's Atrocity (in their earlier, less ridiculous days), England's Benediction and the unstoppable Bolt Thrower. More than any of that, the Scandinavian scene sets my pants alight.
Even with a mid-period deviation into less standard death metal waters, an abrupt shift that stranded many early fans, Grave has yet to completely bomb out. I'm happy to report that Dominion VIII is a more than worthy inclusion in Grave's canon, alongside As Rapture Comes as their best since their first few records. Simply put, Dominion VIII is an outright smasher of a death metal disc, in the mold of the classics, equally as powerful if maybe not as fresh and filled with grimy guitar tones and Ola Lindgren's dry-throated scream.
Where Grave has always succeeded is in their killer riffing, a deliberate guitar attack that I've heard described as "carving" and that's honestly as accurate a description as I could hope to create, so I'll borrow it for this review. Moments like the half-time riff at 4:40ish in "A World In Darkness" are perfect examples of that carving--slow and steady, brutal and brilliant, a slicing and dicing slashing slow part that isn't a breakdown so much as just a perfectly paced killing strike. "Deathstorm" also features a similar slower moment before pounding into a driving riff. But all is not half-time brilliance: "Stained By Hate" is a full-throttle attack that never lets up, and lead track "Bloodpath" splits the difference into a mid-tempo groovier realm, filled with some pretty tight chugging that isn’t "core" in the least, but would destroy any mosh pit I’ve ever seen… (Still don’t believe me? Check out the 4:00ish riff in "Annihilated God" or how about that fucking destructive latter half of "Sinners Lust"…) There isn’t much variation or melody to be found here—this is a Grave record, after all—just primal bashing and smashing, so a small word of warning: listeners in need of anything more sophisticated may want to look elsewhere.
Grave has been on a steady pace since their reformation, even if Fiendish Regression was a bit of a creative holding pattern. Dominion VIII is as good a record as any fan can ask, brutal and blistering. Alongside Dismember’s self-titled album and the Hail Of Bullets disc, Dominion VIII is an essential purchase for fans of classic Scandinavian death metal. Halfway through the year, I’d wager that it shall find a place on my Top Ten of 2008.
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Endless Procession of Souls
As Rapture Comes
Back from the Grave