Grim Ravine – It’s a Long Way Down, to Where You Are Review

I am not sure if I’m lucky or not. I mean, I’m definitely lucky that—at the time of this writing—I’m not currently quarantined, either by the hand of the law or by the hand of The Virus Which Shall Not Be Named, Though We All Know Which One I’m Talking About. Where I work, my shift naturally houses fewer than ten people in any given space, and every given space is vast, so again I’m lucky there. But every day I go out to my little printing facility the roads seem less populated than the day before, and I can’t help but wonder what my chances are that I will bring those microscopic bastards back home with me. It’s an oddly terrifying prospect, and my daily soundtrack grows progressively doomier in response. Case in point, the promo o’ the day, from across the pond in the UK, Grim Ravine’s It’s a Long Way Down, to Where You Are.

Information on Grim Ravine is minimal, but so is their discography. One EP, one full-length that’s as long as your average doom EP, and this sophomore outing. All firmly entrench themselves in doom defined by waves of blackened froth across a sea of subaqueous riffs. It’s a Long Way Down, to Where You Are, but along the way I encounter bass tones with fuzz-drenched heft reminiscent of early Mastodon output; riffs that plant my feet firmly in Ahab’s boots; storming tremolos that bring me to the gates of Sulphur Aeon; and vocals that recall the scathing rasps of Kull’s captain. Though these myriad flavors exist, they crash and swirl together in a manner which forms a bespoke sound for Grim Ravine.

Those searching for pensive tales of woe spun by a suave crooner will find no shelter in opener “The Weight is Upon You.” True to its name, the first of four songs introduces a mournful lead guitar before pummeling the listener with leviathan riffs and deep, sinister growls. Slowly, but with ample strength, the track drags you beneath the surface to the deepest recesses of these murky waters, and not long after your body relents as the oppressive environs invade your every pore. Once this happens, the mix of the record suddenly makes sense, as the densely layered frequencies open up and shimmer with deceiving clarity. The record repeatedly evokes the ebb and flow of the opener, but with interesting choices and unexpected applications. For example, “Past Decay” capsizes the ribcage with a monstrous two-note riff, but couples it with a certain swagger that I’d sooner expect from stoner doom records than this one, which creates a remarkable texture. “Barren Ground” features a gorgeous passage built around dark guitar undercurrents and impeccably orchestrated cello leads, but uses that passage to segue into post-black. At first I felt this choice didn’t work, but over time I grew to appreciate the move. Even the closer “Earth to Dust” takes a sudden left turn at the midsection by transitioning funeral doom into a militaristic march, as the record makes its last stand before finally succumbing to the will of the water.

At a tight forty-four minutes, It’s a Long Way Down, to Where You Are isn’t a difficult trek, but there are places which pose obstacles to the listener. The final third of “Past Decay” features inferior music delivered at a snail’s pace which squanders almost all of the momentum built up to that point. In the same song certain spasms of blackened rasps, while passionately executed, lose themselves in unchecked vitriol that saps both coherence and impact from the moment. “Barren Ground” suffers, too, at times due to a strangely flat kick tone, and a dull riff somewhere in the middle of the number. As a final quibble, at several points during my week with Grim Ravine I questioned whether the bass tone is too fuzzy for its own good. I love the texture of fuzz, but too much and the whole affair just crawls across my skin if I’m not in the right mood.

It’s a Long Way Down, to Where You Are, but I thoroughly enjoy the journey. There are moments that didn’t sit well at first, and they still don’t to some degree, yet I always wish to return. Since the week began, I’ve grown more fond of you with each passing day, and I look forward to coming back again, with you, at the bottom of this Grim Ravine.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Hostile Media
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 27th, 2020

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