Century Media Records
August 28th, 2012
Release length: 45:11
First of all, Endless Procession of Souls sounds heavy, pure and simple. The bsss stands out well with it’s lower tuning creating a rattling sound that shines through well while still grounding the effort. The guitars don’t leave much room for a higher pitch in the audio, as they come through a little lower in the mix, but with a deeper distortion to them that gives the music a blunt impact that you cannot help but be moved by. The cymbals come through crisply and more to the forefront of the mix, as do the snares that don’t quite have the same energetic sound captured, but do a good job at helping the subtle click of the bass kick maintain the infectious rhythm of the songs. On top of that, you have the highly enthusiastic guttural vocal performance with a well-rounded range that perfectly suits the dismal atmosphere being woven by the music.
“Dystopia” opens things up with more of a Doom Metal approach, utilizing slower guitar chords only in a funeral sense to commence the helpless sensation before tearing into the soul crushingly heavy “Amongst Marble and the Dead.” This track does show the Swedish Death Metal trait well, while other may incorporate more of a Slam Death Metal approach at times. But, what really grabs your attention is the insanity. The faster pace and energy captured by most of the instruments and vocals helps make a truly brutal experience with lower, dismal tones that make nice segways into slower, burdening passages that are natural to the progress of the song, as well as contain lighter held notes here and there that give sort of a creepy, unwanted glimmer of hope. This whole experience takes the voluntarily headbanging option off the table, and replaces it with an involuntary mandate, something which “Disembodied Steps” capitalizes on perfectly. This one throws back to the early days of Death Metal with shades of early Cannibal Corpse style groove found in the riffs at the start, though not really making another appearance sadly, mixed with that regional specific touch, both of which are instantly addictive with commanding authority to the slightly complex chords that can hold a hint of melody. The vocals seem a little dimmer in volume as well, especially in the chorus, allowing the music to completely sweep over you, and the drumming to take center stage for most of the song, restraining itself to simpler beats occassionaly, such as after that first chorus and diuring the breakdown into the haunting guitar solo.
The first eleven and a half minutes are enough to start a mosh pit wherever you happen to be standing with venomous, pissed off, and catchy Death Metal. The fun doesn’t stop here, but thankfully the faster material does for a little while. “Passion of the Weak” does have some quicker moments behind it, but the song is largely a slower paced track that carries a strong groove to the chords for much of its life. The chorus is a lot simpler in performance, but one of the most memorable off the album outside of “Amongst Marble and the Dead” and “Disembodied Steps.” It doesn’t really seem to have as powerful a conclusion as you would hope given the build-up it gets towards the end when the pace picks up, but overall it makes for another song worth straining your neck muscles over, and even a bit of a breather soaked in the group’s Death Metal roots. “Encountering the Divine” finds the band mixing up some mid-paced material with their faster charges, and for the most part it works out quite well, though it doesn’t exactly have the same impact to the chugging riffs that those with a rich groove have due largely to the fact that they feel highly generic and, while heavy, don’t end up sounding as enthusiastic, even becoming a slight burden to the already hollow faster material that follows. This is a stark contrast to the closing track “Epos.” The nearly eight minute long track has plenty of variety throughout to keep it fresh, and the length is largely thanks to the focus on the slower material that can travel off into that Doom Metal idea “Dystopia” seemed to have, making it a long journey that is well worth going through, as well as to get to in the first place.
There really aren’t that many faults to this release. Sometimes the songs can feel drug along a little too much, though not always to the point that it hurts the experience. “Amongst Marble and the Dead” is an exception to this however. As you near the five minute mark, the song starts to feel less unique, and more repetitive, making the last fifteen to twenty seconds more of a chore than a delight. Aside that, you also have the issues with “Encountering the Divine” to keep in mind. But, perhaps the biggest problem is that, for a forty plus minute recording, it’s just too short. There’s plenty of quality material to pull you in and have you forget the confines of time and space, causing you think it is more the length of an EP than it really is, leaving you wanting more material on the album than what actually exists. While you can’t really take points off for this, it’s still a heartbreaking realization once “Epos” closes either way.
This is easly one of Grave‘s strongest releases as of late. The mixing of the regional signature sound and the old-school groove oriented aspect of this style is nicely handled through most of the recording, though it’s more the former than the latter on many songs. With everything said, this is still eight tracks that make up over thirty minutes of solid, neck breaking, spirit crushing Death Metal that fans of Grave will eat up like the subserviet slaves they are, and for damn good reason. If you’ve been iffy about them given their recent offerings, or are just a new listener who wants to see what all the fuss is about, than now is the perfect time to experience this group for the potential they can bring to the table. Endless Procession of Souls may not be enough to take home album of the yeah, but it definitely comes close, and for anyone, inductees and veterans alike, this should be at the top of your list of albums you simply must buy day one of its release.
01. Dystopia – 0:33
02. Amongst Marble and the Dead – 5:21
03. Disembodied Steps – 5:43
04. Flesh Epistle – 3:24
05. Passion of the Weak – 4:36
06. Winds of Chains – 5:38
07. Encountering the Divine – 3:54
08. Perimortem – 4:42
09. Plague of Nations – 3:35
10. Epos – 7:44
|Overall Score: 9/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Century Media Records.