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On disc: Gravdal

Torturmantra - Mike Thompson - 8 stars


(Unexploded Records - 2010)

Gravdal is a black metal band from Norway who play in that distinctive Norwegian style inspired by early Darkthrone and perfected in the likes of Taake's ...Doedskvad album.
Generally the music is quite bassy with a strong rhythm section driving the songs forward. This is the type of sound I love in black metal, a sound that was epitomized on the aforementioned Taake album. The guitars have a good bite and whilst the riffs aren't always memorable they are certainly effective. The songs are varied and interesting, ranging from blasting sonic rampages a la Panzer Division Marduk to slow and mid-paced songs with more atmosphere.
Probably the strongest point of Gravdal is in the vocal department, courtesy of Galge. The screams are hideous and tortured, as if all the pain and agony in the world has decided to spew forth from one throat. This is a fitting delivery for the lyrics which are generally about the nastier things in life; death, torture, murder etc.
Gravdal follow the blueprints laid down by the original Norwegian black metal scene but also step into the world of depressive black metal in tracks like Mishandlet which, coincidentally, includes guest vocals courtesy of Shining's Niklas 'Kvarforth'. Certainly this is a song that sticks out as it is quite horrifying in its slow style, with tortured screams really bringing to life the emotion portrayed in the music.
Overall, a worthy addition to Norway's black metal legacy. I'd certainly recommend this album to fans of bands such as those already mentioned. This is real, quality black metal of a higher class than most of the pretenders in the scene today.

8 stars

Mike Thompson


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