The Altar Of Sculpted Skulls
posted on 3/2012 By:
Death metal’s basically the same thing as poetry, right? Different schools, geographic origins, minor stylistic innovations over time, and a handful of strict compositional rules -- artful words on a page, angry notes in the air. But hey, how about another similarity: Plenty of folks don’t give two shits about poetry, and plenty of folks don’t give two shits about old school death metal. Well, the latter is what Spain’s Graveyard offers with its new EP The Altar of Sculpted Skulls, and the former is what I’m eventually going to give you, so if you are among the no-two-shits-given demographic, kindly move along.
To be fair, “old school” is so much of a catch-all term these days that it retains almost no content of its own. In the interest of elaboration: Graveyard plays old school Swedish death metal in all its oozing simplicity, from the HM-2 buzzsaw to the simple d-beat pummel, and from the eerily melodic lead to the cavernous, retching vocal. Graveyard never breaks out into reckless speed, and never eases back into a doomed crawl with any real commitment; instead, the band is perfectly content to shuffle along the well-trod paths of Dismember and Grave, and maybe, just maybe, when they feel like getting a little crazy, to mix in a dash of Bolt Thrower rumble. Who ever said that just because you’re cooking an onion stew, you can’t throw in some damn shallots?
As a simple d-beat bruiser, “Deathcrowned” is the most rudimentary and least interesting song here, but “An Epitaph Written in Blood” swings, pounds, and marches with great spirit. Most enticing, however, is the instrumental outro “Cult of the Shadows,” which casts flickers of morose guitar soloing across the walls of the cave in which these songs were presumably recorded. The final two songs previously appeared on a split 7-inch, where they were already rerecorded versions of songs from an earlier EP. Thus, here they bulk up the otherwise skimpy 15-ish minutes of new material but offer little in the way of difference in songwriting.
Still, all of that is basically description without judgment, supporting arguments without an actual argument to support. Thus, I’m falling back on that old pedagogical stand-by: when it comes time to craft a cogent argument, write a sonnet.
From Spain (though Swedes at heart)
From Spain (though Swedes at heart) this racket hails,
To bring you old school death, but nothing new.
Yet headbanging can cure whatever ails,
And headbanging to this ain’t wrong to do.
The riffs are old and lived-in, but well mine
The attitude and atmosphere you crave.
Originality’s a puffed-up line
For fools who’ll meet a heavy metal grave.
“Who needs this noise?” you ask, and rightly so.
But ponder just how many socks you own.
Does not each pair make you as warm of toe?
Piss off, then, if it matters stitched or sewn.
These sounds are grim yet grinning ear to ear;
Who gives two shits if you don’t care to hear?
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