We all have that/those musician(s) that prompts us to dig up every single project(s) they’ve ever been involved in. Call it fanboy/girl-ism or call it stalking… the name-tag’s not important… I went through a stage like that with Shining (Swedish). Whether Kvarforth sang on it, played an instrument on it or even if he just lip-synced his way through the endeavor – I wanted it on my playlist. And that’s how Gravdal came to be a part of my iTunes library. Hailing from the black metal capital of the world (Bergen, Norway), little-known Gravdal create an interesting blend of black and alternative metal with some progressive tendencies, focused on typical themes of satanism, murder, hate and depression. Their first album (Satanist) hit the basement shelves back in 2008 to a relatively warm reception, with their follow-up (Torturmantra), and my entry-point ,launching only two years later. It was the gorgeous construction of Torturmantra‘s “Mishandlet” (guested by, who else, Niklas Kvarforth), that roped me in. This past encounter with Gravdal, and hearing of guest appearances by members of Satyricon, Taake, SAHG, The Ruins Of Beverast, Seven Impale and Orkan along with lyrical contributions by V`gandr (Helheim and Taake) would seem to cement Kadaverin as a “must-hear” release. But does it?

Facing an extensive line-up shuffle since the release of Torturmantra, Gravdal sees founding member Phobos back on guitars alongside Saur (Dominanz), while Eld (Krakow and Aeternus) joins taking up vocal and bass duties, and Taakesjel continues at the kit. “Kadaverin” quickly demonstrates that Gravdal are a force to be reckoned with. Not only does the track successfully walk the line between melodic and pulverant, but it’s also memorable. The intro brings to mind elements of Shining‘s “Reflecting in Solitude,” building towards respectably raw but catchy riffing, reinforced with hoarse roars, and fiendish vocal effect. Instead of plying you with some rehashed guitar solo, the song offers up a sultry sax melody that’s not only disconsolate but also dynamic and in complete contrast to the rawness applied elsewhere. This salve provides similar relief on the back-end of the album, re-appearing in “Når noen tar farvel.”

Gravdal‘s output reads as though it’s been compiled by somebody afflicted with attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Instead of being a negative, the band uses this trait to their advantage, creating a slew of interesting hooks and enough vitality to keep you entertained. Take for example the dramatic shift from blasting black metal at the front-end of “Apostler av døden” to the clean vocal style and doomy Sabbath-like riffing applied over the mid-section of the same track. Or there’s the Ghost-like percussion pulling you into “Arkaisk kamp, angrip!,” the track quickly becoming more abruptly progressive, before settling into the blackened niche carved out by fellow countrymen, Vreid. And finally, the combination of Helmet inspired riffing used alongside the discordant soloing of American rock band Tool in “Inni menneskedyret.”

The high point of Kadaverin ends up being “Eklipse.” A song built around an isolated and clean vocal delivery, naturally accent drenched, and a sobering guitar melody. To describe it, the song itself falls in that niche between what Kvarforth released on the latter period Shining albums, and Watain‘s “They Rode On.” The track’s beauty is only further brought to the fore by the abrupt and harsh nature of “Roten til all ondskap” following so closely behind.

Kadaverin though a good album, is not without some fault. While the front half of the album flows with perfection, the concept drawing you in and keeping you entertained, the back-end could use some re-organization. Some momentum is lost with the bland nature of “Roten til all ondskap.” Had Kadaverin instead run with “Vi som ser i mørket,” followed by “Inni menneskedyret,” “Eklipse” and then finally played out with “Når noen tar farvel,” the impetus would have been more organic. It’s safe to say that Gravdal are making a concerted effort to re-energize the Bergen sound.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Soulseller Records
Websites: gravdal.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/gravdalofficial
Releases Worldwide: August 11th, 2017

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  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    Your mom’s back end could use some re-organization too, if you know what I’m saying.

    • We don’t.

      • Name’s Dalton

        Yes, please elaborate.

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      DOOD …MY MOM IS LIKE….75

      • Brutalist_Receptacle

        I don’t know the woman, but she sounds quite fetching.

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          To the coroner maybe……

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          Unless you’re into short round elderly dutch woman with diverticulitis. ….

          • Brutalist_Receptacle

            DIVERTICULITIS? I TOLD YOU SHE NEEDED SOME BACK END RE-ORGANIZATION!

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            Or she just needs to avoid seeds….

  • wayne the devil

    I think I am going to start wearing corpse paint to work….

    • If only…

      • wayne the devil

        Hey, I’m in management here so why not? That way when people asked me how I was feeling each morning I could say…Dead….tee-hee….my bad joke for the day..

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          Just tell HR that you self identify as a corpse…..done deal.

          • It worked for Happy Metal Guy…

          • Master of Muppets

            Hold up, did you just out HMG’s true identity or do I need to put the bong down?

          • Bongwater changes a man.

          • Master of Muppets

            *Muppet

          • wayne the devil

            I once won a contest for doing the stupidest thing while hitting on a water bong….hitting it while riding a flimsy mattress (or trying to) down a flight of stairs at one of my buds apartment complexes…ended up with bong water shooting out my nose…changed me a bit…

          • GWW

            Riding anything down a flight of steps never ends well.

          • wayne the devil

            Believe it or not I had to fill out insurance stuff in July and for ethnic origin I put blackend…no one noticed…I hate wasting Metal humor..

          • I had a philosophy professor in college I knew was too burned out to properly check sources cited in papers so all my references were metal artists. Dr. K. Diamond. K. King, etc. etc.

          • wayne the devil

            I sign for packages the same way….always makes me smile when I use an alias like Chris Holmes…

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            I submitted the lyrics to Road To Ruin in high school and won first place in the poetry contest.
            I never thought Jeff Waters was much of a wordsmith……I was just lazy.

          • Master of Muppets

            Metal humor is largely wasted on “people”. I rocked full corpsepaint with my Dimmu shirt for Halloween last year and told people I was just a typical Norwegian, absolutely no one got it. One person asked if I was going as the guitarist of Slipknot, any hope I held for the future of humanity died right there.

  • Serjien

    On a different topic, can anyone tell me if “Angry Pop Rock Guy” will be reviewing the new Steven Wilson album? Thanks.

    • wayne the devil

      He sings out His nose while His buddy Mike steals doodles from some band called Opeth? Am I hired AMG?

      • Master of Muppets

        Too eloquent and insightful for here, yo.

      • We’re keeping an eye on you.

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      To The Bone has some great songs, some cool production ideas and some wacky ones.
      The most accessible album he has ever done and most poppy.
      I have already moved on from it so I don’t know if that means it’s meh or that there is just so many other great albums out right now.
      If you’re a fan of PT’s and Steven’s more melodic and less proggy stuff you’ll like it….

      • Mollusc

        I find that with most SW stuff. Good ideas but I don’t think his vocal delivery is varied enough to carry an album. Fear of a Blank Planet I return to fairly often. His remix work for KC, JT, Yes and GG has been amazing.

        • Serjien

          I do enjoy Fear of a Blank Planet as well, it is a very good album imo.

          • Mollusc

            I think it’s greater than the sum of its parts. The Raven… is good too, if I’m honest. I’m still interested to hear his latest, though – must get round to it!

          • Serjien

            Have fun. I gave it a couple of spins and couldn’t really take it anymore. Maybe down the road it will click for me, but it s not doing much right now.

      • Serjien

        I agree with your opinion regarding the album’s accessibility. It definitely feels like SW is reaching out to a new audience, maybe trying to expand the brand a bit.
        And yes, there is a ton of good music out there right now!!

    • Seems unlikely.

      • Serjien

        Thanks.

    • Don C

      To The Bone, aka The Falsetto Disaster.

  • Master of Muppets

    The Den Mother of Evil knows best. While I share musical preferences with pretty much everyone who writes for AMG, I arbitrarily buy almost anything reviewed by Madam X as her/Her selections are consistently among the most unique gems of the promo bin. It caught and held Her attention, it gets my money.

    • You have restored my faith in humanity.

      • Master of Muppets

        Jesus, a 4.0 find during probation and such kind words from the Madam Herself, this has been a fantastic week!

  • Cherd
    • Awesome. Simply awesome.

    • Nukenado

      I think it’s the washed out color palette. Very classy.

  • Yolo Swaggins

    Sometimes I wonder what my mother would think if I was a black metal artist.

    • Dagoth_RAC

      She’d still love you. But she’d call you late at night a lot and say things like, “Are you home safely? You know how I worry that one of those demons you conjure is going to eat you.”

  • Treble Yell

    Embedded is pretty good. Think I’ll grab this.

  • Mollusc

    Embedded track very interesting, I like the changes of feel and the sax. Loads of other threads to investigate for a neophyte like me, thanks! Also reminds me to listen to the recent RoB again.

  • Giblets

    Tool was mentioned. Going to have to pass on this based on that.

  • Ta2dlam

    I’m diggin’ this album a hell of a lot. Being able to write ‘black metal’ songs that still hold the listener’s attention and bring surprises to the genre is not an easy task and these dudes rip it up in those areas.