If you guessed this would be yet another album that sounds incredibly different than its predecessors, you’re absolutely right. Graveward takes its inspirations from Italian Horror films from the seventies to eighties, though most of the time its clear the latter more than the former. Each song has an exploitive quality to it, regardless of how over-the-top or upbeat it can be. There are tracks that feel like you are trudging the depth of the filthiest of dungeon-themed basements, such as with “The Forlorn”, to surfer-style beach fun in the sun, like towards the end of “Kaedit Nos Pestis”. Of course there’s a few I’m still not sure on the intent of as far as the environment goes. Take “Graveward” for example. It starts off sounding like the score to an unofficial sequel to a big budget Hollywood blockbuster Adventure flick from the aforementioned time, but the closing makes it see more like an occult ritual of some sorts.
My only major complaint, at the moment, stems from the audio. It tries to channel that analog quality, and for the most part the band do it well. However, some instruments, like the saxophone on “Out of the Grave”, don’t sound that great and feel unnatural to the worlds established. There’s also some really enthusiastic clean singing that comes across like they purposely threw washout on them to mimic the effect of a worn out cassette or VHS tape, but a possible second studio alteration I can’t quite put my finger on. Perhaps a bit of auto-tuning for additional eerie impact? I get the point as to why they sound this way, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still painful to sit through.
Of course, the major factor as to whether or not you’ll get into this has to do with your level of exposure to Italian Horror films, or even just the exploitation sryle as a whole. If you have never seen even the basics such as any of the Zombie films, Suspiria, Pieces, or any of those fantastic entries, you simply won’t be able to understand what the band is going for. This was proven upon exposing my fiancée to this release the other day. While a fan of the band, she did not like this one at all. Of course, not having seen a single film this album takes inspiration from, we realized she just didn’t get it. Therefor, it has now become my mission in life to expose the woman I love to this fantastic world of gore and terror.
As it stands, would I suggest Graveward? Oh, absolutely. On a personal level, and as a fan, this release is fantastic. There are more issues I’ve picked up on the more I listen to it critically, but I will get to those when I do my critical evaluation of the album for a review. Right now as something I’m just kicking back and casually listening to, accompanying me in the car, or even just sitting hype typing this out, Sigh definitely didn’t let me down, nor do I see my interest in this release waning any time soon.