GRAVE - Endless Procession of Souls (CENTURY MEDIA - LP 2012)
I guess that being a cult and classic band, one of the originators of the whole musical movement – which in this case is Swedish death metal – must be pretty hard. Everyone watches you, some hoping that you finally will deliver a music, which will equal your early outputs – because everyone will always say that your first LP, sometimes the second one, is the best. And some will keep the fingers crossed for the reasons known just to them that you’ll fail, so they can put a crap towards you on internet forums or whatever and moan how great the scene was 20 years ago and now the bands only vulture on their old heritage, recording some shit, which is not worth a damn penny. Obviously the real fans will stay with their favourite bands, despite their mistakes and some temporary failures and also despite the fashions, which come and go like the seasons. Some you win, some you lose, as they say. So, it must be quite stressful life, for people like Ola Lindgren, who keeps playing under the cult name of Grave for almost 25 years now. There were killer releases in the beginning (“Into the Grave”, “You’ll Never See…”), there were some mistakes (“Hating Life”)… Line up changes happened also, most important being the departure of the early vocalist / bassist Jörgen Sandström, who in 1996 joined Entombed. Such things will always have a big impact on the fans, who will expect their favourite idols to never fail. But once Grave came back with “Back From the Grave” LP things had its ups and downs in my opinion. This album, as well as “Fiendish Regression” were OK, but more mediocre. Then happened also some much better releases, my favourite being “As Rapture Comes”, which added a lot of fuel and fire into the Grave’s skeleton. And albums “Dominion VIII” and “Burial Ground” were also very good and satisfying to the fans. But I am very, very glad to see and hear that it seems like Grave have unexpectedly really got strong now and all of a sudden putted out an album, which I think belongs to the best ones, which Lindgren had ever recorded!!!
Fuck yeah, you read it right. Now, 21 years after the release of fundamental “Into the Grave” we have “Endless Procession of Souls” and I feel like this is a true Grave, stronger ever since the release of “You’ll Never See” and definitely this newest effort belongs to my top three of all of Grave’s releases!!!! And I don’t need to mention I guess, which other LPs I like most hehe. I am really, really surprised that Grave managed to compose and complete such a killer and wonderful album. Of course I kept collecting all their vinyls, they never really failed me much (except the “Hating Life”, which remains the only album, which I don’t have nowadays in my collection), but even through such “Burial Ground” was really good and fun to listen to, I didn’t feel the thrills while listening to it just as when I listened to the early albums for the first time. Meanwhile something like that happened once I played “Endless Procession of Souls”. It was like “what the fuck????”, can it be really so good? Yeah it can!
Right from the very first sound I felt completely massacred by the brilliance of this album. Really, it has everything what good Grave LP should have, but written in some of the best ways. Each track on “Endless Procession of Souls” is just killer, their riffs are memorable, but heavy, brutal and massive, in some mysterious way Old Lindgren and his comrades managed to write absolutely stunning songs, which are equally good as those from their early efforts. No bullshit, no time for fillers, just crushing death metal, straight ahead, punching you in the face and ripping your guts out. And those excellent riffs – some of them are almost doomy and some are so much influenced by Celtic Frost (“Flesh Epistle”), but all in all you can clearly hear that this is Grave. The style of this band plus the characteristic vocals of Ola are unique and one of a kind. I cannot even mention, which songs are those, which I like most, as the whole album is just superb. I mean, the same feeling I had when I was listening to the two recent Asphyx albums – they also are just amazingly good and include some of the best pieces, which this Dutch band has composed, and I hardly am able to pick up my favourites, as everything sounds so damn good. I have the same feeling, when I shred my guts with “Endless Procession of Souls”. OK, maybe “Amongst Marble and the Dead”, “Epos” and “Disembodied Steps” would be especially gut ripping and crushing bits. But as I said, Grave delivered a complete, perfect album.
And on top of everything I must also mention how great the sound of “Endless Procession of Souls” is. The production, which Lindgren did, is just amazing, very energetic, very heavy, but also very organic and old school. It makes every riff sound like a bulldozer! And also the artwork for the LP is just fantastic. It’s creepy, it’s full of ghouls and other monsters… I love it. It looks just stunning on the gatefold LP!!!!!!!!!!!! And if I mention the vinyl, then I must add that it includes a bonus LP, with six covers tunes (Voivod, Anthrax, Celtic Frost, Alice In Chains, St.Vitus, Asphyx). I was kinda sceptic about it, especially as some of these covers – like Alice In Chains’ – has already appeared on the previous LPs, but anyway it’s always great to get something extra, don’t you think? The quality of those covers varies; some I like (Asphyx), some not really (Anthrax), but that may be due to the fact that I’m not a fan of some of these bands. And also I don’t like Celtic Frost’s cover, “Mesmerized”, as I’m not a fan of “Into the Pandemonium” and those clean vocals just don’t convince me. From the other hand to hear “Them Bones” with death metal growls sounds truly interesting and I’m into it fully.
So, get this LP now, kneel before Grave, because once Dismember is gone, Grave are the true masters of the Swedish death metal!!!!!!!!! And with such amazing LPs as “Endless Procession of Souls” there’s no competition for them. Together with Asphyx and Bolt Thrower they are the best classic death metal band in Europe, no doubt! 666!
Standout tracks: “Amongst Marble and the Dead”, “Epos” and “Disembodied Steps”
Final rate: 95/100