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Fiendish Regression
September 2004
Released: 2004, Century Media
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland

There seems to be a rebirth of sorts coming out of Sweden, as old school death metal bands like Unleashed and Grave are both releasing new CDs on the same day. Grave has been around since 1991 and their early releases INTO THE GRAVE and YOU’LL NEVER SEE… helped influence countless bands. Combining brutality with rhythm, Grave released a steady string of both glorious and uneven albums through 1997’s extremely terrible, EXTREMELY ROTTEN LIVE, before taking a six-year break. They came back with a vengeance in 2002 releasing BACK FROM THE GRAVE, but that album was missing something. It was mundane, repetitive and just…okay. The two year break did the band good and 2004 sees the return of Grave with FIENDISH REGRESSION, which is one of the best death metal albums I have heard this year. The sludgy riffs and excellent vocals of Ola Lindgren have been a Grave staple since the HATING LIFE album and he does not disappoint here either. A shift in the lineup of BACK FROM THE GRAVE also occurred as Pelle Ekegren has taken over on drums from Cristofer Barkensjo. Ekegren’s double bass will rattle your ribcage and his backbeat provides a solid rhythm section with Fredrik Isaksson. The band also used a different producer and studio for the first time, choosing Peter and Tommy Tagtgren and their Abyss Studio. Peter Tagtgren’s work in Hypocrisy and production duties with bands as notable as Marduk and Immortal is certainly felt here as the sound is top-shelf. The chugging guitars and downtuned riffs and perfectly balanced with the rest of the elements.

Lindgren makes no effort to hide his fondness for Slayer on the opening track “Last Journey,” with its “South of Heaven”-like opening. Building to a crescendo and then briefly dropping back to haunting serenity, Lindgren’s guitar grabs you right off the bat. This song is the perfect balance of mid-tempo brutality, melody and headbanging righteousness. “Reborn” continues the pacing with its speedier delivery and punishing riffs. Lindgren’s vocals are nothing short of superb, especially during the chorus. Backed by a dirty solo and punishing double bass, this track is definitely the standout on the CD. “Awakening” and “Breeder” are just as powerful and at nearly the halfway point of the CD, things have not slowed down in quality yet. Each track fires on all cylinders with a killer intro on the latter before launching into an unrelenting sea of chaos. “Inner Voice” and “Heretic” continue the onslaught of aggression as Lindgren tears through the madness with riff after spellbinding riff.

Points must be given to Grave not only for sticking to their roots, but for rising like a phoenix from the ashes of what appeared to be a band who had given up. The late 90s were not kind to death metal and Grave wisely took a break, let the genre reinvent itself, tested the waters with BACK FROM THE GRAVE and then descended upon the masses with their strongest offering since their debut fourteen years ago. There isn’t anything new here by any stretch of the imagination, but for a solid old school death metal fix, FIENDISH REGRESSION is the drug of choice.

KILLER KUTS: “Last Journey,” “Reborn,” “Breeder,” "Heretic"
Track Listing

1. Last Journey
2. Reborn
3. Awakening
4. Breeder
5. Trial By Fire
6. Out of the Light
7. Inner Voice
8. Bloodfeast
9. Heretic
Bonus Tracks
10. Burial At Sea (St. Vitus cover)
11. Autopsied (Re-recorded demo from 1989)


Ola Lindgren—Vocals/Guitar
Jonas Torndal—Guitar
Fredrik Isaksson—Bass
Pelle Ekegren—Drums

Next review: » Grave - Fiendish Regression
Previous review: » Grave - Enraptured (DVD)

Fiendish Regression
September 2004
Released: 2004, Century Media
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall

Grave has been one of the most influential death metal bands on the Swedish metal scene ever since they released their debut album in 1991. The last full-length album was BACK FROM THE GRAVE that came in 2002. For this release the band consists of the original members Ola Lindgren and Jonas Torndal together with Fredrik Isaksson (Therion) and Pelle Ekegren.

For the first time the band has tried out a new studio, having previously recorded everything else in Sunlight Studio. Sunlight Studio is where all the legendary death metal bands from the early 90’s recorded their albums. To put some new perspective on things they went to Abyss Studio to record the new album. As producers the guys have chosen the founder of Abyss, Peter Tägtgren, and his brother Tommy. As always the brothers have done an excellent job. It’s the first time I’ve seen the brothers working together on a production. The album sounds heavy, aggressive and brutal just like Swedish death metal should sound. Grave have managed to combine their 90’s sound with a somewhat updated sound for the 21st century.

Grave plays death metal with a lot of tempo changes. They play both grinding and slower parts throughout their songs and sometimes they almost border on being a bit melodic. Grave also borders on atmospheric death metal in the sense that they build up different moods and settings that they tear down and build up again. In other words, Grave delivers some really well played death metal. They play really strong Swedish death metal with chewing guitars and rattling double bass pedals.

This is Grave’s sixth album and for first three albums they had Jörgen Sandström on vocals before he left for handling the bass in Entombed. On FIENDISH REGRESSION there are nine tracks but I don’t know who has written the music and lyrics or when the album was recorded. The cover looks as brutal as the music sounds, as it was done by Jacek Wisnieswki from Poland who also made covers for Marduk, Malevolent Creation and Vader, among others.

Grave feels as strong and vital as they did in the beginning and it’s fun to hear a band that was part of the death metal scene when it exploded in the early 90’s. Now it’s full European touring activities scheduled this fall for Grave, but their fans already got the opportunity to hear some new material at Germany’s Party San Festival in August this year. I’ve got nothing to complain about on this album and it’s fun that many of the old classical Swedish death metal acts still live up to their reputation at being the best at what they do.

Another of the influential death metal bands from the 90’s are Unleashed who also released an album not too long ago this year and it’s nice to see that the old Swedish death metal bands are still alive and still have a big fan base. The first copies of FIENDISH REGRESSION are going to have a limited slipcase packaging with two bonus tracks. If I have to pick some favorite songs it would be “Last Journey”, “Reborn”, “Breeder”; “Trial By Fire”; “Out of the Light” and “Bloodfeast”. The campaign for world domination is about to begin again for the legendary Grave.

Next review: » Grave Descent - Grave Descent
Previous review: » Grave - Enraptured (DVD)

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