What Lies Beyond is the 6-track début album from Bastard Grave on Pulverised records. This is Old School Swedish Death metal and damn proud of it, begone the Gothenburg style, all hail the punk infused buzzsaw guitar tone of Nihilist/early Entombed.
As ever the downside of anything ‘old school’ is that you know exactly what to expect. downtuned HM-2 Buzzsaw guitars? Check! Short, simple punk inspired riffs? Check! Abrasive solo’s? Drums that sound like someone falling down a flight of stairs? That sense of not being able to finish the album because you already know what the rest will sound like? Check, Check, Check!
Being old school it makes BastardGrave challenge to stand out that bit more difficult, and it’s to be noted to their credit that they do indeed achieve it on many occasions.
Starting off with ‘From The Depths’ we’re greeted with borderline sludge levels of feedback and a dry vocal roar, swiftly followed up with a round of rough and ready drums. The statement is made and you know exactly what you’re going to get. The blueprint of Stockholm is being followed closely, so far, so old-school, although there’s also more than a nod to more modern adherents to the sound such as Trap Them.
At times, particularly during the first two songs in the album, the pace can vary and drop a bit; this is most obvious during that opener, which seems to wane somewhat after the first few minutes and the fury seems to peter out. Fortunately by the time we get to track three, ‘Stalker’, the band are showing an upswing in confidence.
Later on in the album, especially with stand-out tracks ‘Bastard Grave’ and ‘Path To Extinction’ the riffs seem to get longer and the song-writing moves away from straight up homage and it’s this feeling of them finding their feet musically which is actually quite potent. Faster and more confident, the riffs chug along like an asthmatic steam train. Crusty, dry vocals and the stuttering yet pummelling old-school drums, it’s here that the promise is by far the most notable.
A début album is still early days for any band but Bastard Grave actually show a considerable amount of promise, they don’t do much which is groundbreaking but what they do, they do very well indeed.
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