Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Grave Disgrace - Triumphant & Militant Church (album review)

Grave Disgrace came to my attention sometime last summer while searching albums "tagged with doom" on bandcamp.  The cover of their self-titled debut grabbed me, something about it told me this was going to be something that wouldn't disappoint.  It didn't, I'm still listening to that album, especially "The Mire Brings".  It's very Sabbath-y in the sense that the vocals are Ozzy-like and the guitar hits that perfect Iommi tritone that's neither too thick and distorted nor too thin and weak.  In fact, this slightly mysterious Russian band gets things just right more often than not from the artwork on down.  By the time I discovered they had a new release out, it had been a while since I heard a brand new, really doom-y album as was 'Triumphant & Militant Church' by Grave Disgrace, the band's second major release on bandcamp.  Needless to say, the next 30 minutes after pressing play will drown you in doom.

After the long, slow and entirely doom-y tension builder, "East of the Sun", the band gets down to business.  "Ice Tentacles" slams in with the kind of riff with the kind of tone that I'm always looking for but had been hearing less and less of.  It's for that reason if for no other that I "lost my shit" (as the youngsters say), when I first listened to this thing.  And a worthy reason it was.  I like my doom thick, shaggy, and possessing sharp claws and teeth and an ill-tempered demeanor.  I like stuff that is more experimental and pushes boundaries too.  But nothing is going to make me lose more of said 'shit' than an entry into the genre of doom that doesn't have a slash next to it.  This is what I listen for.  This is what I scour for.  To find stuff like this.  All this is not to say the band hasn't changed, grown or progressed.

The biggest, most obvious change of all is in the vocals.  Where Aleksei Uvarov sounded Ozzy-like on 'Grave Disgrace', he doesn't sing here on 'T&MC' so much as create a chemical process deep within his guts that belches through him miraculously forming words on the way out.  In effect, the vocals have taken on a much deeper tone.  Comparing "Ice Tentacles" to say "The Mire Brings", one might get the impression that it's an entirely new singer.  That may even be true!  With very little info on the band available I'm relying on The Metal Archives here for my information, but that's usually a trusted source.  A change of heart perhaps?  Who knows?  Either way, the change of direction from melodic to guttural vocals is a significant one.  It gives the band a sludgy overtone, but I don't want to get into the game of putting slashes next to what Grave Disgrace does, they cut enough deep slashes in listeners anyway.

Side B continues the pattern on of an intro, in this case "West of the Moon" ("East of the Sun" on side A, see how that works?) preceding a longer, mercilessly slow riff fest, on this side taking the form of "The Cult".  It picks up where "Ice Tentacles" left off, having much the same tone and tempo as it's side A twin.  The largest difference between the two being the driving pace that closes out the last minute of the song.  A precursor to the next Grave Disgrace release?  Time will only tell.  It certainly leaves the door open to a sequel.

This is doom in its purest, grimiest incarnation, hammering slowly away at the nerve until the very last minute of the album.  That's when they bring the chainsaw out and make the final end a messy one.  I highly recommend this album to anyone who listens to doom.  You can't always say that, no matter how good an album you've got.  This isn't middle of the road stuff, this is hammer on temple doom!

Highlights include: "Ice Tentacles" and "The Cult"

Rating: 5/5

Total Run Time: 31:57

Aleksei Uvarov - Bass, vocals
Konstantin Belousov - Drums
Sergey Saprantsev - Guitars

From: St. Petersburg, Russia

Genre: Doom

Reminds me of: Grave Siesta, Pilgrim

Release Date: April 9, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: The perfect 'road music' soundtrack for an armored tank rolling into battle.

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