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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.

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Fiendish Regression
January 2004
Released: 2004, Century Media Records
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos

Sweden’s Grave have been a pretty solid band over the years, but I confess they haven’t done that much for me. They play death metal very competently, with exactly the right equilibrium of irreverence and rage, but over the course of their various albums (I own three out of six) they’ve never quite managed to push the needle into the red. They’re not a bad band by any means—but if you’re looking for your mind to be blown by groundbreaking death metal, it’s unlikely Grave is going to deliver.

FIENDISH REGRESSION fits that pattern exactly. Here we have meaty death metal with thick-sounding riffs, a little “wetter” than most Scandinavian death bands; we have standard angry-shout vocals; we have Tommy and Peter Tagtgren manipulating the production knobs; we have a mix that is very technical and crisp, so flawless that in your mind’s eye you can almost see the little green digital blips moving up and down the sound meters. We also have a lot of songs that sound very much the same. “Last Journey,” the album opener, is fast, angry, punishing and heavy with some occasionally catchy riffs. “Reborn,” the second track, is fast, angry, punishing and heavy with some occasionally catchy riffs. The third track, “Awakening,” is fast, angry, punishing…etc., etc. Grave shrieks, shreds and chugga-chuggas through nearly forty minutes of music, and the vast majority of it—though not all of it—is indistinguishable regardless of where the needle drops.

There are some moments of variation, such as the slower pace and almost doomy-sounding primal heaviness of “Breeder.” The pleasant surprise on the album is “Trial By Fire,” which sounds like a dead ringer for something off Machine Head’s first album—I kept waiting for Mr. Lindgren to shout, “Let freedom ring with a shotgun blaaaaaaaaaaaaaast!”—and is really the only track on the album to register above the fray. All of FIENDISH REGRESSION is certainly very well-played, and from a technical standpoint it may be Grave’s best album to date. But it just didn’t grab me.

I think Grave has been around long enough, and plays proficiently enough, to begin pushing the envelope. They haven’t cornered the market strongly enough to make a career out of remaining defiantly static (a la Dismember or Manowar). In a way they’re a prime candidate to expand the boundaries of death metal—I mean, it’s often the most unlikely acts that wind up really making their mark on metal, and after five albums of essentially the same stuff, doing something extraordinary would win them a lot of converts. FIENDISH REGRESSION, however, is not that album, and I seriously doubt it was intended to be. Bottom line: if you’re familiar with Grave’s prior work, you probably already know what you’re getting here.
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


Ola Lindgren – vocals & guitar
Jonas Torndal – guitar
Fredrik Isaksson – bass
Pelle Ekegren – drums



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