Grand Harvest – Consummatum Est Review

Spring is officially upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere, and I couldn’t be more disappointed. The cherry blossom trees are beginning to bloom, and I already miss their bare, lifeless branches. Daylight saving time is now in full effect, and I long for the days when the sun was down by 4:30 pm. The advent of spring, and the impending return of its even more horrible cousin, summer, always sends me into a sort of depression. Despite my status as Angry Metal class clown, I’m actually an extremely introverted and withdrawn personality, one who thrives on the dark, dreary days of fall and winter, and the lengthening of the days is once again working its nefarious magic upon my soul. But I refuse to go gentle into that bright light; this week I went for as many walks as I could, timing the sporadic Pacific Northwest weather so that I’d be walking in the rain. And in my ears, I sought out the most atmospherically draining soundtrack I could. Consummatum Est, the debut album from Swedish death-doomers Grand Harvest was just what the doctor ordered.

Grand Harvest is an intriguing outfit for multiple reasons. There aren’t many bands who release a live album before they ever release an EP or a full-length, but Grand Harvest’s first official release was a recording of a live show they played in September of 2020. While Consummatum Est was already recorded and ready at that time, the pandemic delayed the album’s release until now, and the live album served as a stop-gap that allowed many of these tracks to see the light of day before their officially appointed time. And anyone who has heard the band, either live or recorded, understands the other intriguing thing about them: their sound can be difficult to describe.

Ostensibly labeled as “death-doom,” Grand Harvest plays a powerful mixture of styles that includes but transcends such a label. Each of the record’s eight proper tracks displays its own unique personality while still fitting nicely within the band’s core sound. Combining the rhythmic barbarism of Bolt Thrower or Asphyx with the introspective atmospheric black metal of a band like Eneferens, Grand Harvest is able to convey their esoteric message while covering a wide swath of emotional territory. Sometimes these styles are kept relatively separate. For those listeners in need of their Bolt Throwerphyx, there is a handful of shorter bruisers laden with massive tremolo riffs comprised of “The Harrow,” “Crowns to Ashes – Thrones to Dust,” and the embedded single, “Fatehammer.” The latter is simply one of the most gnarly death metal songs I’ve heard all year. There are also the more atmospheric tracks like “No Paler a Horse”—a track that really brings that Eneferens reference to life—and opening track, “Sol Maledictor.” But the band is just as effective when they combine both strategies. “My Desolate Sea” conjures images of my beloved Wachenfeldt as it weaves atmosphere and grooving heaviness into a tapestry of Luciferian glory, and closer—and Song o’ the Year contender—”Consummatum Est” sends the record into the void in absolutely bulldozing fashion, its final roar resonating in my head long after the album stops playing.

The production on Consummatum Est is spectacular, allowing every aspect of Grand Harvest’s sound to make itself powerfully known. The riffs are already huge in their own right, but when backed by the strong bass sound, they swallow you whole. The percussion reverberates as if it’s coming straight out of that giant drum on the cover. Vocalist Dr. Häll moves effortlessly between death metal roars, black metal shrieks, and creepy spoken word passages, adding to the impression that the band transcends genre distinctions and reminding me of the versatility of a powerhouse like 1914. With such a varied cast of killing tracks, it’s incredibly hard to pick favorites, but I’d go with “The Harrow,” “No Paler a Horse,” “Crowns to Ashes – Thrones to Dust,” “My Desolate Sea,” “Fatehammer,” and the title track.

Consummatum Est may translate as “It Is Finished,” but it represents the best possible start for a young, hungry band. With this release, Grand Harvest (Grand 4arvest?) have positioned themselves to wage war upon the realm of blackened deathy, doomy things. This record has been a wonderful cure for my fair-weather depression, and I’m sure I’ll be leaning on its misery for comfort through the bright, cursed days of summer.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Messor Grandis Productions
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: March 25th, 2022

« »