Earthen Grave – Dismal Times

earthen_grave-dismal_timesEarthen Grave casts doom metal with a twist: this traditional doom metal in a form very much like Black Sabbath, Pentagram (US) or Witchfinder General adds a virtuoso violin player and occasional touches of high-speed riffing in the style of death metal bands.

Dismal Times (if they named a newspaper after this album, I’d subscribe) powers itself with good ol’ 1970s metal riffs, appropriated detuned and given the mid-paced treatment that made early Cathedral so successful. They rock along, create a groove, and then into it drop dissonant sounds and a slow-down, imitating what it feels like to run into bad news.

The bad news theme continues throughout this album. “Relentless” rips along in the style of Slayer’s South of Heaven, but then stalls into a dark collision of melody, sounding like a day of ambition that ran full-tilt into a morass of oblivion. The violin of Rachel Barton Pine, renowned classical player and life-long metalhead, dips in and out of the music to accent a riff or zip in a quick fill, contrasting the slow churning riffs.

Vocals are of the higher register type that listeners may be familiar with from Pentagram or Witchfinder General. These work to great effect because the guitars are downtuned and slow, allowing the more able vocals and violin to dart around them and flesh out the layers of sound.

Dismal Times will satisfy metalheads because it is something old and something new; it is classic metal riffs, put together in songs with a mid-paced slightly upbeat feel, but it doesn’t lose what makes it doom metal. Instead, it amplifies it, and shows us that the bad news can be fun reading indeed.

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9 thoughts on “Earthen Grave – Dismal Times”

  1. All doom metal is warmed over 1970’s riffs. Doom metal is metal’s way of saying that it took a wrong turn, so now it needs to go back.

  2. Tralf says:

    Yeah, this stuff blows. The only reason this is being promoted is the editor’s boner for Rachel Barton Pine.

    1. The whole genre blows. This isn’t any worse than the heaps of shit that Cathedral put out for the last 15 years. It’s better than all stoner doom. It’s just 1970’s however. I listen to it, like when I listen to the new Darkthrone, and I think how great it is to travel in time, except that we’re not. We’re still in 2013! It’s not 1973 anymore. I guess it doesn’t bother me when I think it’s really well executed. The Earthen Grave stuff is catchy, good rhythm, good violin, screech vocals but no really distinctive riffs or ideas. It’s a good B-level band. I’d rather listen to it than stupid trend music like Sunn o(((, Red Fang, Opeth, Mastodon, Devin Townshend, Wolves in the Throne Room, High on Fire, Baroness and all that warmed-over 1970’s trip out shit.

      1. Tralf says:

        It’s not just the fact that their using dated techniques, though. It’s the fact that they don’t really express anything with it. It’s worship music designed to emulate a certain style, and something gets lost in translation: Call it the soul, spirit, heart, whatever. There’s nothing in ‘worship metal’ that reminds me of the glory of life in all its tragedy and triumph. I don’t feel anything listening to it. This makes Earthen Grave is a chore to listen to, as most doom metal is, outside of Candlemass and Black Sabbath.

        1. christians Go Home says:

          This is how I feel about like 95% of Metal bands that come out now. It’s sad that all these people who make music don’t really understand what art, music and Metal are really about, they are just filling up the ether with their half baked bullshit. I blame the newer fans and stupid shit like Metal Archives reviews too, bunch of idiots reviewing and supporting stupid shit! That article with the baby Pete Helmkamp lookalike pic, talking about young kids keeping Metal alive? They need to stop living in denial and just let it die so the Satan spirit can reincarnate into something else.

          And what’s with all these reviews of all these clone bands lately? I’d rather stick with the originals…

  3. Whatever happened to Obscura Hessian?

  4. Blake Jugg says:

    I’d rather Nachtmystium. Thanks.

    1. Don’t you have some drugs to take? They’re in the glove box of your Scion.

  5. 010111001 says:

    I for one like the occasional Sabbath-worship. It alows for quite a few varieties of interpretation, even if it is concidered regressive now, but then again has metal evolved anywhere since the 90s?

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