Mother of Graves – Where the Shadows Adorn Review

As autumn attempts to blow its crisp, leaf-scented breeze through the still-humid, still-swamp-assy climes of Northeastern Florida, I can’t help but reach for my own aural equivalent of a pumpkin spice latte, a sound so comfortable that it’s akin to slipping on a well-worn hoodie that’s seen better days. Kiddos, it’s time to revisit the sounds of early 90s doom/death.12 I’m talking about reminiscing of Days both Brave and Murderous, of paradise being lost, and of flowers withering. I’m talking… wait a minute. This is a new band? From Indianapolis, Indiana?! Yes, gang, Mother of Graves is here with their debut full-length, Where the Shadows Adorn, and it’s the most 90s-sounding doom/death I’ve heard in quite some time.

In no way is this meant as a put-down, nor is it a band that’s just aping melodies and sadboi vibes, mind you. Where the Shadows Adorn radiates with a sincere ache of moments and people lost to death and time, with the opening title track mournfully setting the mood with Brandon Howe’s haunting keyboard melody before guitarists Chris Morrison and Ben Sandman channel their love of all things Paradise Lost and Katatonia simultaneously to great effect. Throughout the album’s eight tracks, Mother of Graves pay respects to their elders while showing what can be done to progress a well-loved sound. Album highlight “Tears Like Wine” displays the strongest evidence of the band’s strengths, with Howe’s mammoth-yet-clear growls, beautiful melodies, and the catchiest of choruses found throughout Where the Shadows Adorn.

But while the album lacks a weak track, and every song on Where the Shadows Adorn contains several moments of impressive hooks and beautiful imagery, they don’t flow particularly well within themselves. Much like Lost Paradise, As the Flower Withers, and Dance of December Souls, this is very much a 90s debut-sounding debut, warts and all. “The Emptiness of Eyes” goes from Funeral-esque mourning to MDB’s “The Forever People” blastathon, complete with pinch harmonics, without proper warning, resulting in some whiplash. “Of Solitude and Stone” travels a similar route, but with a more extreme outcome, with the ending not sounding too out of place on a latter-day Death album, but again with no smooth build-ups or progression. It’s as if Opeth in their younger years hypothetically jammed various disparate song sections on Orchid, said “fuck it” and called it a day.

Soundwise, though, Where the Shadows Adorn sounds amazing, and you can thank Dan “the Man” Swanö’s mastering and Sandman’s production and mixing skills for that. Corey Clark’s bass makes its presence felt throughout, and Don Curtis sounds menacing behind the kit. The guitars and vocals lay front-and-center without overpowering everything else, and the keyboards sound wonderfully crisp and clear. I just wish for a tighter, healthier flow within the songs themselves, as there are so many impressive moving parts, but they all have to be in harmony with each other to really shine. Also, a little tempo variance couldn’t hurt, as the sense of deja vu reared its pudgy head from time to time.

With all that said, I’m eager to see where Mother of Graves head next, if Where the Shadows Adorn is anything to go by. The American doom metal scene is not what it was even a few years ago, and if there’s a new band that’s looking to add seeds to that once-fertile soil, I’m all there to cheer them on, and Mother of Graves have their hearts in the right place already. With some tightening and refining, there’s no doubt they’ll get there in an album or two. As it is, Where the Shadows Adorn is compelling enough to give a listen and a looksee. It might be a bit rough, but all of our favorites started off that way.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Wise Blood Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 14th, 2022

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Again.
  2. Okay, some of us drink pumpkin spice lattes year-round. Mneh!
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