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Gràb – Zeitlang Award winner

by Gary Hernandez at 25 December 2021, 4:56 PM

GRÀB—not to be confused with GRAB, the Black Metal band from Greece—is a Black metal duo from Bavaria, Germany. The word, gràb—not to be confused with the German word meaning "grave"—is a traditional Bavarian word meaning "grey/old." On October 1, 2021, GRÀB (Bavaria, grey/old) released their debut full-length album, “Zeitlang,” via Trollmusic. It is an incredible artifact of Black Metal genius.

Although the band is officially a duo, they were joined in the studio by a small army of guests, including Markus Stock (EMPYRIUM, SUN OF THE SLEEPLESS), PK (ABIGOR), Morean (DARK FORTRESS), and Paymon (ex-DARK FORTRESS). “Zeitlang” comprises nine tracks, including an atmospheric intro and one instrumental, and clocks out at just over an hour. From beginning to end, the album draws you in and weaves a dark, compelling story that transcends the bonds of the recording and pierces your soul with icy tendrils. Even the album cover, with its muted colors and indistinct contrasts, imbues the essence of the album—isolation, solitude, and a type of nihilistic strength.

The band notes that Grànt, former DARK FORTRESS frontman, wrote “the entire concept album in a local dialect of Germany's southernmost Alpine state.” The album tells “the story of an old man, who has chosen to withdraw from society into an isolated cottage deep in the mountains, where he reflects on his life while his death edges ever closer. The story on ‘Zeitlang’ ('Yearning') begins in his early childhood with the song 'Nachtkrapp' ('Night Raven') and continues all the way to his end, which is illuminated by the track 'A Gråbliacht' ('A Grave Lantern')."

There is so much to love about this album. Not only does the band use the local dialect but they also weave in traditional local elements such as the hammered dulcimer, zither, and alphorn. The production levels of the album are also impressive. The band doesn’t hide behind a hellscape of gray distortion, instead the separation and distinct layering build to create a deeply nuanced, multi-movement composition. Standout tracks for me include the second track, “Nachtkrapp,” with its utterly visceral riffs and ripping vocals; the very next track, “Zeitlang,” with its subtle opening and use of field recording and spoken word to build ambiance as well as the narrative; “Auf da Roas” with its gorgeous use of traditional instruments; and “S letzte Gleit” which is just a fine slab of brutal and haunting Black Metal artistry.

I know reviewers across the scene are busy penning their “top albums of 2021” lists. I predict this will be on many. And if it isn’t, well consider it on mine . . . though I can’t be bothered to actually write said article. GRÀB. “Zeitlang.” This album is quintessential Black Metal. Smart, emotive, primeval, and dark and cold as hell. I can only hope that this is not a one-time project and that we’ll be seeing more from GRÀB in 2022.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1.  Sched oreidig (intro)
2.  Nachtkrapp
3.  Zeitlang
4.  Weizvåda
5.  Nordwand
6.  A dåg im Herbst
7.  Auf da roas
8.  S' letzte g'leit
9.  A gråbliacht
Grànt – Vocals
Gråin – Guitars, bass
Record Label: Trollmusic


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Edited 20 March 2023

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