Newer Graveland applies a sense of theme and motif that the older work found it difficult to assimilate. It preserves the folkisch spirit in its narrative, even if the music has gotten more conventional, in part through learning of instruments.
Meh, it provides a sense of verse and chorus, rather than the linear and associative narrative arrangements of the earlier material, easier to assimilate yes, and certainly easier to pick out dominant melodies from the deliberate diversions, but really, weaker in every sense. Even the technical quality of instrumentation isn't vastly improved (except in that Retarded Cousin Capricornus has been replaced by a machine that, at the very least, actually keeps time). The quality of composition however, has declined from the elite tier to merely very good.
The biggest problem is that, where Thousand Swords
and The Celtic Winter
were supremely inspired albums preeminent within their chosen realm, the post-Memory and Destiny
material, while strong, duplicates much of what Summoning aims for, but without the epic scale or the more developed musical sensibility: it's black metal as high quality muzak.