Reviews Graves At Sea The Curse That Is

Graves At Sea

The Curse That Is

During the early to mid '00s, Graves at Sea had acquired a legendary stature. Their first demo, Documents of Grief, revealed a band that had an exceptional handle on sludge, retaining the weight and extremity of the genre, combined with a sickening perspective. A single, Cirrhosis/Atavist Arise, was released the following year through Southern Lord, and the most revered release of the band would come on their split release with Asunder. That was 2005, and when it felt that the time was prime for the debut full-length of the band, they disbanded…

The return was announced in 2012, and the first taste came two years later with This Place Is Poison, an excellent EP that was followed up by another great split with Sourvein. And then, the time had finally come, with Graves at Sea finally releasing, their fourteen years in the making, debut album, The Curse That Is.

This record it is all about sludge. That is what Graves at Sea feel comfortable in. Heavy riffs fill this album with their constant ominous presence, as the slow pace unfolds. Melodic lines are added alongside them, enhancing the sinister tone of the record rather than offering solace. The parts become more vivid with “Dead Eyes” as the steady groove takes over completely, or take on a blackened perspective, as is the case with the full-on aggression of “Tempest.” Infusions with stoner rock tones is something relatively new for Graves at Sea, and those are revealed in The Curse That Is, actually introducing the first riffs of the title track in that manner, or in a hybrid stoner/sludge form with “The Mental Sentence.” Roaring guitar feedback allows for the further setting of this infernal scenery, in parts of the opening track and “Minimum Slave,” with Misterek's vocal lines always accompanying perfectly this procession.

But, there is also a bit of an emotional side to Graves at Sea. No matter how devastating and heavy the music might be, the album is not completely devoid of catharsis. A deep melancholy rises from those parts, structured around acoustic guitars and violin, but closer to Asunder than My Dying Bride, in “Dead Eyes” bringing an eerie tone to the table. “The Ashes Made Her Beautiful” sees Graves at Sea take that expression one step further, not only revealing the melodic tendencies, but allowing them to carry on in parallel with the devastating weight of the heavy riffs, resulting in the absolute peak of the album.

The Curse That Is has been a long time coming. In terms of comparing this work with their earlier releases, one realizes that the band has underwent certain changes. The sound is not as raw, the riffs do not feel completely drenched in the sludge dirt, the stoner extensions appear natural in their work and they allow a bit of emotion to show. Even compared to the tracks from their split with Sourvein, the material here is more accessible. Does that mean that the band has lost its edge? No, they have just matured.

7.9 / 10Spyros Stasis
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