SCENE: A slick, leather-appointed office on the 13th floor of an imposing building. The room is furnished with hellish trophies and framed photos of sobbing individuals. Faint wailing can be heard from the floors below.

[Mond enters the room and spies O’Brien lounging in his chair. O’Brien is staring out from the office window, observing the lost souls as they thrash in the scalding sulphur pits.]

MOND: I have a new candidate ready for Fate Reassignment.

O’BRIEN: Oh? Who’s the unlucky bugger this time?

MOND: It’s a band, actually. From Germany.

O’BRIEN: Germany, eh? What style of music do they play?

MOND: Black metal. Might have what it takes to carve out a successful career.

O’BRIEN: Short of bending Mephistopheles’ ear I don’t see that happening. No, no, I have something else in mind for them.

MOND: Another “O’Brien special”?

O’BRIEN: [Grinning] You know me all too well. Okay, let’s start with re-tooling the band name: It has to be ugly but forgettable. The kind of name that slips from your memory the moment you hear it. I’m thinking… Grabak.

MOND: Come again?

O’BRIEN: Grabak.

MOND: Nope, sorry. In one ear and out the other. That name again?

O’BRIEN: [Enunciating each syllable] Gra. Bak.

MOND: Gra… Ah! Grabak. Yes, that’s a name destined to be ignored. What’s next?

O’BRIEN: I say a healthy re-writing of their history is in order. Do you have their file?

MOND: [Slides a manila folder across the table] Here you go.

O’BRIEN: Hmmm… Let’s have them toil away in obscurity for a spell, releasing a handful of albums as far back as the late 90s to little fanfare.

MOND: But eventually they’ll build a groundswell of support?

O’BRIEN: More or less, enough to secure a record deal with Twilight Vertrieb in 2011. Until…

MOND: Until?

O’BRIEN: The label goes bankrupt.

MOND: Oh dear. At least during those trying times the band could draw strength from its members, individuals who have stuck together through thick and thin, right?

O’BRIEN: Actually, let’s engineer it so that Grabak goes through extensive line-up changes.

MOND: You’re a ghoul.

O’BRIEN: I won’t deny it. Alright, we’ve shuffled the deck enough regarding the band’s past. Let’s focus on the here and now. [Picking through the documents splayed out on the desk in front of him] I see they’ve produced a new album. You’ve listened to it, Mond?

MOND: Extensively.

O’BRIEN: Give me a summary then.

MOND: It’s called Bloodline Divine. The title is bland enough that we can probably keep it as is.

O’BRIEN: Fair call. Go on.

MOND: I mentioned earlier they’re a black metal band which means a fast and aggressive sound. In GRABAK’s case they draw inspiration not only from the second-wave but also from earlier in the scene, namely Bathory.

O’BRIEN: Bathory… Wasn’t that the band from that Quorthon chappie? He had a pact with one of our other departments. I seem to recall that he had his contract terminated early.

MOND: Yes, well, all that talent has to come at a price.

O’BRIEN: The devil’s in the details. Sorry to derail. You were saying?

MOND: Bloodline Divine. Black metal. It’s all very intense – pounding drums, tremolo picking, that sort of thing. The track “Via Dolorosa” is a great example of this with its searing lead work and tight riffs. Reminds me of Immortal and Taake at times. “Oblivion” is another good one, leaning on some impressive dual guitar passages. What makes the music stand out is the interweaving of Viking death metal that gives it real heft, an emboldened sonic approach that sweeps you up in the moment.

O’BRIEN: You like it then?

MOND: Quite. “Phoenix” is the jewel in the crown. Opting for a slower pace, the track is a smouldering morass of mid-tempo chords that oozes atmosphere. I had to close the door to my office to stop the lesser demons from sniggering at my involuntary head-nodding.

O’BRIEN: Little buggers.

MOND: O’Brien?

O’BRIEN: Yes?

MOND: Can we let this album succeed? Is it too much to ask that we give the band a victory, no matter how small?

O’BRIEN: Sentimentality, from you of all people? You’ve gone soft, Mond.

MOND: Look, the album’s hardly perfect. While the songs are great the clinical, German nature of the music stifles variety a tad. But still, it deserves a chance.

O’BRIEN: I’d love to accommodate you on this one, old bean, but we’ve a standard to maintain. I tell you what, in exchange for a plastic-looking, bare-breasted woman being crucified upside down on the album cover, I’ll allow Bloodline Divine to feature one of the best sounding productions from any record this year.

MOND: [standing up, agitated] But with cover art so awfully kitschy no one in their right mind would think that a quality album lurks within! They’re doomed to ignominy!

O’BRIEN: [laconically] Then you better hope that a discerning metal site sees through the glamour and takes the album under their wing.

MOND: [Sighing] I’m not optimistic.

O’BRIEN: Oh, don’t get too dejected. Pub?

MOND: Pub.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Massacre Records
Website: facebook.com/grabak
Releases Worldwide: November 17th, 2017

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  • AMG fan fiction now available!

    • 50 Shades of Black (Metal)?

      • That but more trve.

        • 666 Shädes øv Bläck (metal)

          • Nukenado

            666 Shädës øv BÏäck (metal)

          • *cracks knuckles* 666 Shäðës øv ßÎåçk (metal)

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            /^&$$/^^/$/&&&^*(*&/$#

          • basenjibrian

            We need The Receptacle to weigh in here!

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            NO.

          • Nukenado

            Exhibit A:
            The brutal torture of the victim, typography in full.

          • Nukenado

            DCLXVI Šηäðëš øν ΒÏäçκ (metal)

            AH FUK IT

    • Nukenado

      I second Dammage that we need a wiki to track all the site’s lore.

      • Dammage

        We’re past wiki stage at this point. I’ve already prepared a commercial to sell the 666 volumes of knowledge of all things AMG. This limited edition box set comes with the entirety of the history of AMG, and a special edition unicorn blow up doll designed by The Unicorn himself. Look for our commercial, airing on channel 4 at the 4am timeslot in beautiful North Korea.

        • Nukenado

          Would you be interested in a Deluxe Dungeon package featuring remastered versions of AMG Dungeon screams’ master files?

          • Dammage

            Only if the DR is over 15. I want to be able to hear the blood running through their veins with my Sennheiser Orpheus

          • Nukenado

            We’ll sell every scream track individually so people can choose to hear them completely unmastered if they wish!

          • Dammage

            Ahh, yes! Now that is as kvlt as kvlt can get! We’ll call it The AMG Package, give the users the tools to have the best listening experience so we don’t have to make it for them!

          • Nukenado

            You’re speaking my language!

    • Next stage: t-shirts.

  • Not Patrick From HoE

    What the fuck is up with her chesticles?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      They’re obviously surgically enhanced. And apparently fireproof too.

      • Nukenado

        Spoiler: she survived and went on to lobotomize Blind Seer’s music.

      • Nag Dammit

        Silicone is such a versatile material.

      • sir_c

        Some Takata leftovers I presume. No wonder they had a recall

    • Mollusc

      They’re eyeballs! And false ones at that.

  • Nukenado

    I can say that between this, his first person “About” section and the Fall of Carthage review, Treble Yell is now the chief AMG fanfic writer.
    May glory and questionable deviantArt posts be with you.

    • Fanfic is a fickle mistress.

      • Nukenado

        Demanding, unpredictable and most commonly sexually deviant.

        • Back to anime tentacle porn again??

          • Nukenado

            But metal!

          • That’s gonna leave a mark.

          • Nukenado

            Better than a Weregoat or a Goatpenis…

          • I suppose….

          • basenjibrian

            Gawd I miss Portal of Evil.

  • Ta2dlam

    Bravo!

  • El_Cuervo

    Mustapha Mond from Brave New World and O’Brien from 1984? yayyy mum I got a reference!

    • ssorg

      O’Brien from ST Next Gen. Energize!

      • Nag Dammit

        Richard O’Brien from the crystal maze. He of tiger print leggings fame.

  • Ferrous Beuller

    I ate civilization. I poisoned me – I was defiled. And then, I ate my own wickedness…

    • Nukenado

      Your essay on the effects of Orwell on modern literature when?

      • Ferrous Beuller

        When that quote stops being Huxley.

        • Nukenado

          Yay for blissful ignorance.

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      “I wanted to rub the human face in its own vomit… and force it to look in the mirror.”. .

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Yay, boobies! Even better, upside down boobies that look like they’re still righ side up! Yay!

  • Eli Valcik

    Al this review did was make me sad again about Quorthon dying.

  • Septic

    The Nipples are absent from the Spotify version… #Nipplegate

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Well written old chap.
    Had me by the short and curly’s until the very last.
    Bravo

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    ….ahem……
    BOOBS!

  • Wes Allen

    Ahh, the O’Brien special. 60% of the time it works, every time.

  • Me

    I miss the days where black metallers didn’t scribble all over themselves with a sharpie.

  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    good article, also the horns on the inverted pentagram seem redundant, but whatever, also the cover really sucks, the embedded song sounds good

  • Lithophyte

    Trying to work out which is worse. The cover art or the lyrics.

  • aelena74

    excellent writing for a meh band of angst-y coal miners. we had other such band a few days ago as well…sar isatum or something other

  • Holy hell, dude, this was ridiculously inventive and incredibly well done. I love it when the best thing about an album is its AMG review, and this delivers. Strong work, yo.

    • Yolo Swaggins

      Agree; this is definitely one of my all-time favorite reviews I’ve read on this site! I loved how you reviewed that album while doing a narrative, it was incredibly inventive for sure.

      • The Trebster certainly knows his way around a word or two. The bar has been raised. Coupled with the (maybe?) return of HMG, it’s been a great last few days here. I respect and admire the work of all of our writers, but I fucking loved what Happy was all about back in the day and truly hope to see more of his (and everyone else’s) more out-there review insanity.

        • Yolo Swaggins

          The writing of this site is incomparable to any other metal review sight out there; and the community is way more active than any other. Extremely rarely do we seem to attract any negative Nancys here, and I especially love how you are constantly active in the comment section, Drew. I love your writing as well! (Never have I felt an AMG review was anything less than beautiful). In saying that however, the bar has been raised. A new style has been introduced and I must say I am curious in how abstract you guys can make your reviews while still providing a certain clarity to it. Keep up the sweet work, yo.

          • D’aw, shucks. This place really is pretty much the best thing on the internet, though. Between the writing, the readership and the overall camaraderie of the commenters, this angry metal family is all right in my books.

  • Moth

    Such a fun review!

  • Mollusc

    When thou daubest thyself with corpse paint, look you over your imaginary spectacles or down through your imaginary pince nez at thy photographer.

  • Treble Yell

    Glad to see positive reactions to the review. It was a bit of a gamble as I wasn’t sure if the unorthodox nature would translate to an enjoyable read so it’s good to see people are cool with it. Thanks for the kind words. It encourages me to try even weirder approaches to criticism.

  • Bas

    Man what a review !
    (and I am not even able to write an original comment…)

  • sir_c

    Grabak reminded me of the old Baktabak record label.

  • Aguy

    I can’t say I liked this one – and yet the longer the embed ran, the less I wanted to close the tab and end it prematurely. There’s a warmth to the production that gives it weight and sticking power.