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Graveborn – Transmigrator

by Santiago Puyol at 13 June 2021, 11:07 AM

GRAVEBORN is an American Progressive Death Metal and Deathcore band, from Boston, Massachusetts. Formed in 2012, they have released four full lengths so far, "Transmigrator" being the last one, released on May 25th 2021. It is the follow-up to 2018’s "The Athenaeum". Conceived as a conceptual work based around the idea of cycles, growth and transformation, the whole album is interconnected via short interludes, following a clear script and structure. It seems the band took inspiration from classic concept albums as the whole thing feels perfectly made for an LP vinyl release with two distinct sides.

"Transmigrator" opens with a brief ambience-heavy intro that gives way to dense riffing. "Recapitulation" makes great usage of space and silence between outbursts of distortion and eases the listener into the album, flowing perfectly into "Moksha". Being the first proper track, "Moksha" features Blackened guitar work and powerful, manic drumming. Some guitar riffs and even lead lines are a bit reminiscent of OPETH while the vocals carry a Hardcore feel. A really proggy track with a nasty middle section, brimming with tempo changes and almost Latin-esque feel from the rhythmic patterns. It sets into a nice groove, slow-paced and almost doomy, on the second half. Some gorgeous tremolo picking work. The vocal layering adds to the anxious feel of the song.

After "Acquiesence", another short track filled with moody ambience, comes "The Place Where Beasts Eat Hearts", a real highlight for James Stoner’s drumming. Stoner’s work is intricate and creative, playing around with syncopated and swingy patterns from both the cymbals and snare. Another track with a killer middle section, cleanish guitars sounding quite uplifting amidst the chaotic surroundings. Slight Brian May-esque feel from the guitar work at times. John Leblanc and Jesse Blanchette give a Metalcorish spin to the vocal work, making the whole thing feel very modern.

"Coded Collective" starts with a bang, its driving rhythm keeping things steady. Some mathy tapping adds complexity and moves things into more of a contained chaos feel around the two-minute mark. The proggiest song on the album, possibly tied with the closer. It feels a kindred song to "Moksha", following a similar structure of slower, more melodic yet doomy second half. It slowly fades out and dissolves into synth work and guitar ambience, flowing into "Fragmented". This interlude makes for a beautiful and nostalgic mid-album ambient respite. A fitting close to Side A.

Following with the LP comparison, "Chronovore" is a gorgeous side B opener. Heavy energy and riff-based, it feels quite accessible by genre conventions and helps build momentum once again. It is a really catchy tune, capped off by some exquisite shredding. The song ends on an intriguing note, with percussive clock sounds, fitting thematically. "The Singularity" follows, another catchy, mostly straightforward track, incorporating a vaguely Middle-Eastern feel from riffing and rhythmic ideas. It has a bittersweet middle section, sitting somewhere between celebratory and nostalgic.

"Theseus" is a mysterious and vaguely sinister synth-led interlude that wouldn’t feel out of place on a sci-fi or horror soundtrack. The title track comes right after, another proggy Death Metal tune with complex riffing and shifting time signatures and tempos. It offers little new in structure or sound, but it's a well-composed song nonetheless, sporting some soulful shredding.

Heavy ambience, textured guitar layering, soft beats and pulsating synths are the building blocks of "Chrysalis", the last interlude of the record, setting the stage for the grand finale. "Palingenesis" founds the band firing out on all cylinders here. A moody seven-minute track that dedicates a good chunk of its runtime to mid-tempo, richly melodic sections. After an insanely heavy first two minutes, it slows down more and more, going full-on bluesy and jazzy around the five-minute mark. It explodes in emotional guitar soloing accompanied by sparse instrumentation, before going for a final climax of soulful heavy music.

"Transmigrator" is a strong record, filled with well-written songs, top-notch musicianship and enough hooks to keep the listener interested through its runtime. The sequencing of the tracks, especially the placement of the interludes works to maximize the impact of the heavier sections, and offers enough respite so the experience does not become daunting at any moment. At times, GRAVEBORN sound reminiscent of early BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, but in a more polished and restrained way. They end up sounding just like themselves, still, and I’m certainly interested in hearing what comes next.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. Recapitulation
2. Moksha
3. Acquiesence
4. The Place Where Beasts Eat Hearts
5. Coded Collective
6. Fragmented
7. Chronovore
8. The Singularity
9. Theseus
10. Transmigrator
11. Chrysalis
12. Palingenesis
John Leblanc – Vocals
Reggie Lewis – Bass
James Stoner – Drums
Jesse Blanchette – Guitar and Vocals
Chris Ramusiewicz – Guitar
Record Label: Independent


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