Nov 17, 2009

Earthen Grave - Dismal Times

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When Ron Holzner left Trouble, his future you could say looked a little shaky but he now has found a new home in "Earthen Grave" which may prove to have been a wise move for him. The thing that makes Earthen Grave such a interesting proposition is the way they have blended the old Doom sound of Trouble, the Stoner Rock sound of The Obsessed and Pentagram and even added some Thrash elements into the mix. There is huge doses of straight up Metal and even violin played by Rachel Barton Pine,a respected classical violinist. What you are left with is 5 tracks ( 3 originals and 2 covers ) and 30 minutes of some fresh sounding Metal that crosses over many styles while retaining a sense of originality. The opening cut "Dismal Times" starts off moody and full of darkness with guitars and violin combining to make a ominous sound before launching into a colossal lumbering riff based Metal. Vocals go from yelling to the spoken word before the tempo pushes the band into top gear verging on Thrash Metal. While the music is similar to other bands, the way its arranged gives it a identity of its own and the 6 minutes passes very quickly indeed. Next up is "Life Carries On" that has a more original flavor to it, guitarist’s Tony Spillman and Jason Muxlow’s trade solo's back and forth with ease and once again Rachel Barton Pine musicianship shines throughout. The final section of the song is amazing with Scott Davidson’s drum work coming to the front of the mix backed up with some monstrous bass playing from Holzner. The next tune is a cover of Witchfinder General's "Burning A Sinner" and this smokes. They bring some much needed energy to the track and while the original is great, this version is given a new lease of life with the violin and Mark Weiner vocals giving it a new twist. "Death on the High Seas" is the EP's epic at over 10 minutes, another violin featured intro complete with some nautical sounds in the background set the mood and then we are taken on a journey. The twin guitar sound is thick and the stomping riff is real powerful, the song once again is a mix of Doom and Thrash. Mark Weiner's vocals really drive the song to its logical conclusion which is one of a headbanging anthem, I can picture the hair flying listening to this killer track. I don't think I have ever heard a track quite like this one, the mixture of screeching violin and chugging guitars is very unique and it works. The final track is the other cover and its a fine version of Pentagram's "Relentless". Like the other cover its done with passion and a sense of freshness, they don't just run through the song for the hell of it. Its always been a great tune but here it seems re-born and given some new-ness which a lot of other bands who have done this track never seem to get. Its a bit unusual to have 2 covers on a debut EP but the quality of the performances is so high that it doesn't harm the listening pleasure found on this great release. Can't wait till the band gives us a full length with all originals however, they have all the songwriting capabilities to make one of the best albums ever. 9/10

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