And as I mentioned in the beginning, it really does start with how heavy this is. The majority of the record is quite slow, but never quite reaches the snail pace of death doom metal. The riffs feel plodding without being boring, and are balanced out by the technical runs and solos throughout the album. When listening to this I feel a sense of almost psychedelia in the way the riffs interact with the listener. A lot of that is due to the technique they use of letting the chords hang for a bit, using the natural reverb of the guitar to create the atmosphere. It’s damn effective, adding a bit of a surreal element to the music not as often found in standard death metal.
Further contributing to this sense of unique atmosphere is how nonsensical the solos are. They’re more guitar effect shows than they are proper solos, with more whines and pedal effects than actual melody. Normally I’d probably look at that as a bad thing, but in this circumstance Grave manages to make it work. I feel like the solos are concentrations of energy, trying to get as many notes and ideas out there as possible, acting as a great contrast the the relatively sluggish pace of the rest of the album. It’s like someone who has been trapped in a prison cell and chained to the wall, forced to play nothing but methodical and slow riffs, finally gets just a few seconds to do whatever the fuck they want, and uses the time to unleash all of that pent up energy they’ve been saving for all this time. It’s really evocative imagery when you think about it that way.
Though I have mentioned the riffs quite a lot, I would not really call this a riff based album. The riffs are there, but more in a supplemental way to the guitar effects. I guess one of the faults here is in the fact that for the most part, the riffs are relatively mediocre as stand alone motifs. Without the context of the music around them, they would be nothing. However what Grave does so well in Out of Respect is use timely riffs. They use the times where they don’t have average riffs when they need it most typically at climaxes to tracks. The track Deified is a fantastic example of this, using one great riff and repeating it over and over again at the right now, drilling it into your skull for maximum effect. It feels like I’m having the most wonderful trepanning season possible, with no regrets.
However the regrets I do have are mostly in the way of this album’s length. 48 minutes isn’t typically considered too long, but in an album with as little true variation as this, once it got to around track 8 I was looking at the final 9 minute monster with more of an unwilling glare than an excited one. And to my disappointment, there really isn’t anything justifying it being double the length of most of the other tracks. I think simply gutting that last track entirely would’ve greatly improved my experience, as I got to the point of being satisfied with my death metal meal just about right before it. Though even then, like I said earlier, the fact that the riffs generally aren’t that amazing as a whole, while making it so much sweeter when they are, leads to an experience where I felt I was waiting for a large part of the album. Simply waiting for the next “good part” and enduring the pleasant, but somewhat unremarkable filling that gets in the way of the meat.
Still, Out of Respect for the Dead delivers one of the best pure death metal experiences of the year, being simultaneously unique in approach, and containing all the familiar aspects that one comes to love with good old death metal. Anyone looking for a record that does what you want in a death metal album, and then a little extra, could do much much worse than Grave’s new work.