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Released: 2013, Astral Projection
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Okay – so we’re still pretty fresh into 2013, but New Zealand’s Shallow Grave have delivered my favorite doom record of the year so far. I’d go so far as to consider myself an aficionado of the genre, and I do specialize in self-loathing, so I feel confident in being able to assert with clear conscience that the band’s self-titled debut is a massively heavy, musically punishing and emotively decimating slab of doom goodness. Intrigued? You should be.
Opting to forgo the over trodden footsteps of Sabbath in favor of the more abstract resonance of bands like Cough, Electric Wizard, YOB, Zoroaster, and FOE era Cathedral, the six tracks on SHALLOW GRAVE are executed with an absolute uncanny level of HEAVY. But more than just being heavy, SHALLOW GRAVE made me feel uneasy. And at this point in my life, any music that can still make me feel uneasy is a winner as far as I’m concerned. There are six tracks on SHALLOW GRAVE, but it’s a less a collection of individual “songs” as it is separate movements within a collective composition, and is an experience best enjoyed in a single sitting from top to bottom. Whereas “Devil’s Harvest” is more openly antagonistic in comparison to the subdued nihilism of “Nameless Chants”, each tune feeds into and complements its brethren, creating a holistic listening experience. By the time that the closing waves of feedback from “City of the Dead” crash over the listener, you’re left feeling sonically beaten and bruised, but ready for a second helping of doom induced masochism.
Despite what the uninitiated may think about this brand of music, it takes a particular level of acumen to harness such immense aural emotion through such vacuous minimalism, and it’s a skillset that Shallow Grave appear to have studied in earnest. This level of doomliness isn’t for everyone, but for those who appreciate a good, wholesome plunge into utter musical despair, SHALLOW GRAVE is a fitting avenue in which to do so. Shallow Grave’s self-titled debut is available now through Astral Projection.
1. Devil’s Harvest
2. Chemical Fog
3. Nameless Chants
4. From Boundless Heights
5. To Unfathomable Depths
6. City of the Dead
Brent Bidlake - Bass
James Bakker - Drums
Tim Leth - Guitars, Vocals
Michael Rothwell - Guitars, Vocals
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