Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gravesoil - Oblations of Blood DEMO (2014)

Judged by the criteria of a demo alone, Gravesoil's Oblations of Blood is if nothing else an exhibition of consistency which meshes together elements of black and death metal, but a lot heavier in the former category than the latter which appears through the growled vocals alone. Sonically I'd trace this back to the tradition of bands like Mayhem and Bathory, with flurries of tremolo picked guitars interspersed into crashing, roiling mid-paced chord patterns. But I think it's probably more accurate to place this alongside fellow Finns HAIL, or the more driving moments of the rising Swiss act Bölzer, with the caveat that the atmosphere here is conjured up through the sheer force of impact that the guitars and growls create as opposed to dynamic sensibility.

The aggression here almost never ceases with the few exceptions of sparser guitar parts in a couple of the cuts, where the drums march on with cadence-like beats, but the rhythm guitar chords become airier and dissonant. Bass lines are thick and noticeable, providing bedrock upon which the raw but potent guitars can build, and contributing some density to the aforementioned force. The guitar progressions are far from intricate, and were probably one of the weaker elements in the music, not for their tone but for the fact that they seemed incapable of offering a surprise or left turn. Whether it's the tremolo parts, chords or the chugging in "Ashen Pillars", the trajectory always became obvious to the listener. When coupled with the double bass battery, vocals and bass lines, I found that the tunes became resilient mantras of primal power, just not ones that I could remember once the dust of their passage would settle.

This might have something to do with the format. 15-16 minutes hardly ideal to show a band's full range of capabilities. On a longer demo or LP, Gravesoil might stretch its wings further, but I still think a few more uncanny melodies & leads or unexpected breaks would go a long way towards adding compulsion to what's already available. The production is voluminous and even, with storming drums and windy atmosphere manifest in the rhythm guitars; it lends some credence to the band's namesake, since it sounds like the dirt of some moonlit cemetery being churned endlessly, ghastly roars emanating from the dead that were spit forth. But Oblations of Blood doesn't quite reach too far beyond that, clutching at its tombstone but not yet pulling itself fully into the state of undeath. Solid for what it is, but would benefit from some added versatility even within its particular niche.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10]

No comments: