Graves at Sea - This Place Is Poison EP (Eolian Empire)

If yer gonna cover Sabbath...
Release Date: 
22 Apr 2014 (All day)

Crusty as all hell, defenders of the extended-play format, and given to deadly bouts of groove, Graves At Sea keep all us sludgy motherfuckers pretty damn happy. Say what you will about the proliferation of pentatonic fuzz-mongers these days, it takes a real gift (and some real hard-edged hatred) to keep this sort of thing properly rotted. Recently reformed, they pull no punches with latest EP, This Place Is Poison, out now courtesy of Eolian Empire.

Sound-wise, this is about what you would expect based on past releases -- molassine sludge presided over by vocalist Nathan Misterek's often blackened, scowling countenance. Man, that voice. On the title track, Misterek manages to sound like a feral witch in moments, a pretty tasty counterpoint to the more guttural growls on the piece. I don't much care for the "Oh yeah! All right!" kickoff cheers, but hey, I will say that I like the sound of a wretching witch… Meanwhile, Nick Phit goes to work on some crunchy chords, whilst Bryan Sours' drums and Jeff McGarrity's bass keep things set to steamroll in the rhythm section. If I had one complaint on this track, it would be that they don't play slow enough. Still a brute of a riff, though.

The second half of this EP sees Graves pursuing a shuffling acoustic piece of some foreboding. The sample game is a tricky one in metal, and I think this track would have been stronger without its half-cocked vampire-movie monologues. But this, of course, is all before saying "fuck it," and jamming on some goddamn Sabbath. And when that Lord of This World riff rings out, altered only ever so much from the origin text, one can't help but throw the horns. Elemental, that. I must say, though, that you really can't improve on this riff, which it seems Phit attempts to do. Just don't, man. Fuckin' rock out to the original. No shame in that. Neither does the climax of the song really the honour the spirit of the original, or of Graves at Sea, for that matter.

Overall, this is a fun little EP that is worth it for the brutish title track, if not for the phoned-in second half.