Bastard Grave_What Lies BeyondI presume most of you guessed Bastard Grave‘s chosen genre without listening to a second of their music, but in case you’re an extreme metal newbie (welcome! Take a seat, have some cake! Don’t mind the skulls, they’re not real. Probably), this extract from their promo sheet will give you a hint: “With the opening blare on the album starting off with the all-too-familiar guitar feedback reminiscent of a vague Entombed-ish trademark, it is easy to tell What Lies Beyond is heavily laced with the murderous HM-2 destruction and with absolutely no mercy.” That’s right, old school Swedish death metal that’s so devoid of new ideas, even the label thinks it’s generic! And with that I’m tempted to call it a day because, again, unless you’re a newbie (yes, yes help yourself to more cake please), you already know if you might enjoy this record. But partly because that’s rather unfair to the band, and partly because AMG pays by the word1, let’s explore what Bastard Grave bring to the table in a little more detail.

I’m being overly flippant, because though Bastard Grave play the same old riffs you’ve been listening to since 1989, they are admittedly pretty good at it. Leaning towards the Grave end of the Swedeath scale, What Lies Beyond is concerned more with mid-paced bludgeoning than the crusty punk grooves of certain Stockholm pioneers. After a fairly pedestrian first ten minutes, Bastard Grave hit their stride on third track “Awaiting Rebirth,” which provides three and a half minutes simplistic-yet-satisfying headbanging riffage before “Stalker” ups the pace with some nutritious blastbeats and recycled Entombed riffs. Worshiping the old-school as they do, it’s only natural that Bastard Grave have a track named after themselves, and “Bastard Grave” is a highlight – though that’s probably because it reminds me so much of Dismember, and I super heart Dismember.

Save for a couple of neat moments – the melodic final section of “Misery” and thrusting groove of “River of Death” – the remaining tracks merge into a murky mass of generic Swedeath; you’ll nod along happily, but you probably won’t remember much of it. So instead of grasping for ever more ways to describe a sound that’s been described a million times before, I’ll spend the rest of the review complaining about the mastering. I know around these parts moaning about dynamic range compression is even more clichéd than this record’s riffs, but it turns What Lies Beyond from being a decent enough throwback record into a painful chore (on headphones, at least). The dynamic squashing has dramatically accentuated the harsh guitar frequencies already enhanced by that classic Boss HM-2 pedal, while sucking all the energy and significant volume from the bass and kick drum. There’s barely any room left for the vocals to fit, which is a shame as singer Sonny has a wonderfully malicious snarl that I’d like to hear more clearly.

So there you have it: yet another retro Swedeath album filled with competent playing and some decent songwriting, but held back by a total lack of creativity and a nasty mastering job. If Bastard Grave had emerged a few years ago I might have mustered some more excitement, but the large number of superior releases in this genre over the past few years, not to mention Grave and Unleashed‘s excellent recent records, makes What Lies Beyond feel pretty superfluous.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Pulverised Records
Websites: bastardgrave.bandcamp.com Facebook.com/BastardGrave
Releases Worldwide: October 30, 2015

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  • The production is asstastic.

    • Excentric_1307

      Review is great, though.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Come on, there´s a girl in the band! That makes it a whole different genre.

    • Pimpolho

      Enlassedcore?

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I prefer to reserve the “core” suffix for stuff I despise. How about Lady Death Metal?

        • Pimpolho

          Reminds me of one great, great Black Sabbath song.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Then the genre name is not right because this is Entombed worship, not Black Sabbath worship.

    • sir_c

      even if she would squirt all over the fretboard, that still does not improve the sound.

      • You wot m8?

        The door is over there.

        • sir_c

          If you can please open it for me so that I can shove them out?

  • Wilhelm

    Sounds like they were going for that behind the mattress on the wall sound, someone please slap the engineer.

  • Thatguy

    Entertaining review.

    The sound is horrible but that’s OK – a solid 2.5 for me.

    • I was perhaps a little harsh because I had to listen to this several times, and every time it annoyed me I wasn’t listening to Entrails/Bloodbath/Lik/Horrendous/…… (or any of the originals for that matter) instead.

      • Thatguy

        Actually I was joking……you were not too harsh at all

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    My excitement then disappointment levels were high until I realised I was thinking of Bastard Priest who must be due an album soon.
    I want to like this and its great to see a woman in a death metal band think I’ll see what they do next.
    Great cover btw

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      May I recommend another Death Metal band with a woman?
      They´re called Bolt Thrower ;-)

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Yes and what a band!
        It would be great to see more women bringing the noise in metal.
        Metal can be too much sausage sometimes…particularly death metal

  • BaconUnbound

    I’ve always had, and always will have a soft spot for the Sunlight sound. So I’m forever on the lookout for more Swed-O-Death riffs played in different ways, but THIS IS SO LOUD I CAN’T REALLY HEAR ANYTHING ELSE.

    Some of the riffs may be well done but god is it exhausting and annoying. Beware headphones users!

    BU!

  • You wot m8?

    The overall sound is… Certainly less than wonderful… However, I actually really like the vocals. Kinda death-meets-post-hardcore. Pity the vocalist ended up in this particular group.

  • Danno

    Oh, nice. I haven’t heard from Entombed for a while.

  • Rickard

    You got one thing wrong, as many others have to. Sonny was just in The band a short time and it is Rickard who is singing on both The demo tape and The record.

    • Thanks for the correction – the vocals are a highlight :)