Grave – Endless Procession of Souls (Century Media, 2012)

With Dismember recently calling it a day, Entombed only managing to shit out one re-recorded track in the past half decade, and every third and fourth tier old school death metal band on the planet reuniting or being reissued (or both)for no apparent reason, now is the time for Grave to reassert themselves as the genre kingpins they’ve always been.  The Swedish band has had a solid run since coming back from the, err, grave back in 2002 with Back from the Grave, releasing albums and touring on a consistent basis, but having yet to release a truly standout album in the vein of their early nineties material.  Endless Procession of Souls, Grave’s sixth album since re-entering the death metal arena after a six-year layoff and tenth album overall, is the classic-sounding recording fans of the ol’ Scandinavian blood ‘n’ guts have been waiting for.

Guitarist/vocalist Ola Lindgren recently stated that Grave has never employed the Boss HM-2 distortion pedal that is allegedly responsible for the Swedish DM sound, but that doesn’t stop Endless Procession of Souls from cutting like a buzzsaw; I think it might have more to do with something in the water over in Sweden than any particular stomp-box.  Of course, the fact that Lindgren has been doing this since 1988 probably doesn’t hurt matters; no doubt the deep grooves and shit-kicking beats found on tracks such as “Encountering the Divine” and “Flesh Epistle” are more than second nature by now.

Lindgren is the sole original member of Grave and has surrounded himself with yet another almost brand new lineup for album number ten, but this matters little; the band is clearly as crushing and cohesive a unit now as ever.  Sure, there will always be some denim vest-clad twits pining for the bygone days of Into the Grave and You’ll Never See, but anyone not afflicted with debilitating old school-itis will quickly take note of the fact that Grave sounds positively ripping and re-invigorated on tracks such as “Amongst Marble and the Dead” “Winds of Chains” and “Perimortem.”  Indeed, the the saw-toothed, bone-breaking bludgeon that typifies the band’s approach on Endless Procession of Souls makes it more than clear that Grave are still hungry, thanks to this injection of fresh blood.

These are strange times we live in when it comes to death metal.  Between the legions of new-jack bands attempting a wholesale rip-off of Into the Grave, Left Hand Path and Like an Everflowing Stream, as well as the aforementioned hordes of bands that could barely get their shit together long enough to release a crappy demo back in 1991 reuniting and being hailed as conquering heroes (if there’s one thing metal loves, it’s revisionist history), it’s easy to forget that some of death metal’s true legends never really went away.  Grave is one of those legends, and with Endless Procession of Souls, they’ve provided us with a more than solid reminder of their dedication and perseverance.


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