Friday, November 26, 2010

Grave Ritual - "Euphoric Hymns From the Altar of Death" (2010) [Dark Descent Records]

          Grave Ritual is a death metal band who hails from Montgomery Alabama. Formed in 2009, they are comprised of R.E (vocals, guitar and bass (live)), R.S. (guitar), and J.B. (drums). Formerly known as Meathole Infection, Grave Ritual is reminiscent of bands like Bolt Thrower, Immolation, and Gorguts (non progressive metal work). Grave Ritual performs classic death just as well as the genre’s founders. However, it doesn’t offer anything new to this prominent genre of death metal.

            For starters, “Euphoric Hymns From the Altar of Death” is much distorted and very muddy sounding. The instruments are audible, but they sound like they are one instrument (drums included). If I have strain to listen to certain instruments on a CD, something is wrong. A CD is supposed to present a finished, refined work that is ready for the listener to enjoy. If the listener has to work to find that “finished, refined work”, then that means the engineering team missed something while mixing the record. However, the vocals seem to be mixed the most. They can be easily heard and they are very present compared to the rest of the instrumentation. In my opinion, it sounds like this album was roughly mixed and pushed to press. It sounds like the engineers missed the mastering part of making the record. Whether this sound was intended by Grave Ritual, I cannot know. However, I can say, if the quality of the sound was better mixed and mastered, I would have enjoyed this record a lot more.

            Another problem I found with this record was the songs themselves. Each song sounded exactly the same. Before I knew it, I was halfway through the album, without even realizing it. I would have gone through the whole album without a second thought if I hadn’t checked my iTunes song list. Each song seemed to run right into the next. There seemed to be no definite breaks and there was no diversity regarding song material. In my opinion, Grave Ritual needs to work on writing songs that are more diverse regarding guitar, bass, and drum parts. It is obvious that these guys have chops, but to what extent? This is something the band should work toward, especially if they plan on writing material for another album.

            Overall, I do think Grave Ritual is a band of talented musicians. They know how to play and they play classic death metal very, very well. Like I have stated before, they need to work on diversifying the material that they write and they need to hire better engineers or, if they are engineering their own material, work on their engineering skills. “Euphoric Hymns From the Altar of Death” is only the bands first full length release; meaning they still have room for improvement. Grave Ritual is still an artist to watch (if they play their cards right). However, I would not buy this album. Instead, I would borrow it from someone that purchased it or I would download it, listen, and decide whether to buy from there. Listen and beware!

- Pat


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