EARTHGRAVE - The Verge Of Human Abyss

Earthgrave - The Verge Of Human Abyss

8 songs
36:28 minutes
***** ***
Wooaaargh / Black Omega


One year ago, sludge metal band Earthgrave from Trier in Germany released a self-produced EP which left a really solid impression, even though the sound still had a certain demo quality. One year later, they are already back with their first longplayer, this time recorded in a professional studio, and released on CD, limited edition cassette tape and as a digital download on two different labels.

This makes of course for a much better because more transparent sound, and thus fleshes out the bandís intended sound more accurately. Like on the debut, the band here still performs as a trio, with a guitarist, a drummer and a vocalist. So no bass guitar, which most of the time doesnít really constitute a problem because the guitar covers such a wide range of dynamics in order to take over the role of six string and four string guitar at the same time.

The album begins with the short intro Transcendence, one minute of strange noise and deep spoken words, before Funeral is the first regular track. Starting with guitar and guttural vocals, one might be afraid that the sound is a bit dry, but soon the distortion increases, the drums join in, and we get crawling sludge metal of the first order. The vocals remind me sometimes of early Obituary, with vocalist Rosh having a similarly disgusted and anguished quality to his voice as the legendary John Tardy. The pace is generally slow, but there are throughout the album mid-tempo parts sprinkled in here and there, which makes for a surprisingly varied sound. Although the band never plays fast, these slightly more upbeat moments actually sound faster than they really are. On Beyond The Path, the albumís longest track at seven minutes, Earthgrave rejoice themselves in a veritable doom sludge orgy, with a melodic middle part making sure that the song wonít feel too long. The Abyss is at three and a half minutes an example that band can also write shorter songs, and once again they come up with a strange crossbreed between doom and sludge that sounds like a much more aggressive early Cathedral. My personal highlight is Altars Of Desolation which starts as a really moody slo-mo track where the musicians really show what they are capable of. The guitar work is impressive, adding certain melodic touches here and there to give the music a truly gloomy mood. The last one and a half minute then shows us the band from their fastest side, and that works surprisingly well for them, too. Three more songs follow, displaying some more of the bandís matured sound.

As far as I know, Earthgrave recently played a show with a bassist, and even though on record one rarely misses it, I can imagine that a well-placed bass line would give the music even more depth and gravitas. The Verge Of Human Abyss is a strong step forward after the already more than decent EP, but I have high hopes that this trio (or maybe now already a quartet) can offer us something even better. Fans of music at the speed of magma should still be delighted at this revelation from our neighbours from the East.

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