Can sludge be described as solid?
The cover art on this album doesn’t really fill me with any sense of impending doom…..impending pain for the dude holding a skull over a candle whilst naked (careful buddy, you might burn something). Anyhoo, as they say, don’t judge a book by its cover…..
Graves at Sea are a doom/sludge outfit and have released their debut full-length album, The Curse That Is. These guys have been around for over a decade, but had previously only released demos and had some splitting up and reforming going on. Don’t let the listing of only 8 tracks fool you, this baby goes for a good 70+ minutes.
Doom metal isn’t renowned for any over the top guitar solos, fast thrashy drums, or vocals traversing the ranges; but it does centre on the good old riff. Graves at Sea certainly provide some low-tuned, gutsy and pretty catchy riffs, and some good solid drumming to back it up. With everything tuned down so low, it’s pretty hard to hear much of the actual bass, so can’t comment on how awesome Sketchy Jeff’s playing is!
The first track, the album namesake The Curse That Is starts off with a long slow intro that moves into some cool grooves and riffs. Nathan Misterek provides the screamed vocals, which are a fairly high pitched effort. I’m not much of a fan of this style of vocals, but this track sounds pretty good. Nick Phit plays a catchy guitar, with low tones and good riffs. It’s sort of Kyuss-like, but much darker. Bryan Sours provides some solid drumming.
The second track, Dead Eyes starts off with catchy, slow, dark riffs and bass. The really low tone riffs remind me of Tool. The drums, again, are sounding pretty solid. Misterek’s vocals would really have more impact if they were in a lower register – easier said than done, I know.
Tempest, continues on with the same sludge-y grooves and riffs, which is still catchy and very listenable. However, the vocals by this time, I can take or leave. This track has Lamb of God undertones in the groove, but certainly not Randy Blythe’s vocals – more’s the pity. Misterek’s vocals are starting to wear thin – actually that is how they sound, thin. These songs deserve a bit more ooomph in the vocal department. Maybe this is their idea of doom, as it’s filling me with despair…
The album continues on in the same vein, good solid riffs and drums. The only let-down is the ‘possessed 10 year old girl’ vocals (which is how I’ve begun to hear it). The last track, Minimum Slave gets very repetitive; 14 minutes of going nowhere, except for one tempo change about halfway through and more of the same. If you are going to make 14 minute long songs, make them interesting and listenable.