Monday, May 14, 2012
Earthen Grave - Earthen Grave
I’ll be the first to tell you that I have no idea who the band Trouble is. I’ve seen their name and logo floating around in conversation and press for something like twenty years, but for some reason, I never followed up to find out anything on these guys. And, as of this writing, I still haven’t. I have other things to follow up on at the moment, and one of those things is a new band called Earthen Grave, which was founded by ex-Trouble bassist, Ron Holzner. Ta-da! See what I did there? Tried to link to the past with the present.
Earthen Grave just released their first full length, self-titled album, and folks . . . this is some heavy stuff. Perhaps, not the heaviest music I’ve ever heard, but it’s done with a unique flair that I appreciate wholeheartedly. Doom, as a genre, can be boring and derivative, at least to me . . . and if you know me, you know I like my music to push boundaries, get experimental, and explore new ideas to further expand said genre. Earthen Grave do just that. They work in textural passages, classical instruments, quieter instruments, and additional voices to create a style of Doom that constantly perks the ears towards the new nuances.
Case in point, check out the second track on the album called “Life Carries On”. The songs crushes with a great guitar riff, first in the left speaker, then picked up in the right, then back to the left . . . heavy, right? Then, barely fifteen seconds in, the ears are treated to the piercing wail of a violin. Not something obnoxious, but keyed in with the other instruments and complimenting their sounds. This pleasant little surprise is provided by the virtuosic talents of Rachel Barton Pine. Perfect notes played at the perfect times, adding textures where needed, and providing mesmerizing solos that steal the spotlight. I love the way the violins mesh so well with the ever powerful guitar work of Jason Muxlow and Tony Spillman, almost as if they’re holding their own private conversation within the master work, but never completely overshadowing the song. Of special note, check out the violin/guitar/guitar solo(s) around the 3:45 mark . . . the brilliance in the rhythm section holding down that Middle Eastern tinged groove and then having the soloists coming in to add the layers of sexy spice and sultry flavor, all flying around the senses in chaotic fashion, but never out of control.
Then there’s “Dismal Times”. Doom-y and dirge-y, with its slow and somber opening passage, then building to a guitar fueled riff in classic palm muted fury . . . this song is a horned fist thrown in the air and an homage to all that is classic heavy metal. Again, the violins add great textures and a fresh voice to the menacing and oppressing musical tones. The solo that Barton Pine lays down midway through the song is chilling and morose, caked in a veil of cobwebs from a haunted castle passageway. Then, the eruption of the band coming back in and the upbeat, mosh inducing riffology! Killer stuff! Serve me music with dynamics like this all day, all night . . . I’ll eat it up!
“Beneath A Shovel Load” is another classic metal ditty that opens with soaring and diving guitar antics, a devastating droning rhythm, and some well timed distorted guitar chugs. String bending and mind altering, Earthen Grave deliver a scorcher of muscle flexing metal. This one is a full on headbanging groover that makes me want to dust of the old leather jacket or denim vest and sequester myself in a steaming room of like minded music freaks. I’m digging the guitars on this track, especially when one of the guitarists decides to sustain the notes while the other continues the multi-noted rhythmic groove. Subtle, but effective. Bitchin’ guitar solo on this track, as well. The violin solo towards the end of the tune is outstanding . . . full of energy, anger, excitement!
This album took some time to grow on me, but I’m finding myself going back to it more and more as time goes on. If Earthen Grave is the future of Doom, then the genre is in good hands. As I mentioned, I’m not the biggest of Doom fans, but when it’s performed and executed like this self-titled album, I could very easily be on the road to embracing the genre with greater tolerance. Every song has something fresh and unique thrown into the mix, whether it’s a female vocal harmony or a violin or an acoustic guitar, Earthen Grave are seemingly working towards separating their music from that of the masses. Heavy, yet with flashes of elegance. Menacing, but with touches of beauty. Yeah . . . I’m sold. Earthen Grave is a kick ass record!