Friday, 6 September 2013

Second Grave - Antithesis (2013) | 85%

Boston Doom Party

After a very impressive self titled first EP released last year, the Bostonian doom band Second Grave is already back with a second, albeit shorter offering. The two songs featured on this limited vinyl release are really proving that the band is definitely ready to unleash a full length and I have no idea why the well known doom inclined labels are apparently ignoring them. Their brand of doom metal is getting more popular these days with the success of bands like Castle or Jex Thoth and their female fronted approach and this band deserves some praise and attention.

The first track “Mourning Light” is a very groovy number with hints of the melodic and busy edge of Iron Maiden. It reminds me of Christian Mistress' Agony & Opium with its traditionalism but with an added doom metal sound. The sonority of the band is quite varied, from mid paced and hard hitting doom to Latin infused heavy jazzy leads or heavy mesmerizing atmospheres like on the twelve minutes second track “Drink the Water”. Nevertheless, Second Grave is, before anything else, a doom band. There's no compromises and no overtly modern influences here like folk “vintage” instrumentation or pseudo Satanic imagery. There's hints to the overtly conservative Maryland scene (the EP was mastered by John Brenner of Revelation/Against Nature) and there's also the epic doom feel found in bands like Solitude Aeternus.

Front woman Krista Van Guilder is the highlight of the band, her sublime and characteristic voice and her heavy riffs are the noted trademarks of the sound we can find here. Even if they only formed in 2012, she's far from a newcomer. Van Guilder formed Warhorse but left the band before their seminal 2001 release “As Heaven Turns to Ash”. She was also in a short lived death metal band called “Obsidian Halo” where she showcased her harsh vocals skills. Point is, Second Grave is her first established band and their potential is surreal. Her voice, while the riffs are very good, is the focus of this EP. Powerful, clean and with an epic doom operatic feel, there's even some harsh vocals at the end of the last track pushing the sound of the band towards a sludge/stoner/doom field in a very enjoyable fashion that could be more developed. A good comparison would be Agnete Kirkevaag of Madder Mortem but with a safer and not as crazy deliver. I think it's pretty cool to hear female fronted bands that doesn't CARE about being fronted by a woman. While it's an important characteristic  it's not treated as one. It has the same natural way Castle has. 

The essential is that It fits the heavy/doom persona of the band, it gives an airy feel while never compromising on the heaviness and this can be correlated to the cult British doom band Mourn. Akin to this forerunner of female fronted metal, Second Grave has balls and never opted to market their music using oiled boobs. More women should play metal and it's really with their songwriting skills that the situation will progress.

Another great appetizer from the American doomsters, my body is ready for a full length album. Definitely one of the most promising doom bands. Riffs, atmosphere, interesting vocals and lyrics, it has the whole package.

This EP will be released during Halloween, thanks to Pariah Child for the review opportunity.

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