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Graveworm - Engraved In Black (Reissue) Award winner

Engraved In Black (Reissue)
by Charlotte ''Downright Destructive'' Lamontagne at 26 June 2015, 7:21 AM

Early records seem to often emanate a rawer spirit, a harsher sound. The ferocity any band aspires to possess generally exudes from the low-budget, underground pieces these bands put together before joining the industry. Having already mastered the art of ambiance, it was no surprise when Italian formation GRAVEWORM gave birth to a Gothic and somber record in 2003. 12 years later and here goes a reissue of the record, in honor of its aggressive core, a concoction of relentless and atmospheric at most.

Depict violence, define savage music. Assaulting drums, raging guitars, ferocious and cutthroat growls, maybe? Now pause. Picture the madman in his haunted Victorian mansion from the 1800s. Close your eyes and imagine Count Dracula unfurling noble, grandiose, eerie symphonies on a dusty organ, sadistically laughing before impaling his victims. Foggy cemeteries, abandoned chapels… Emerge yourself into the horror. GRAVEWORM here celebrate the art of grim, only in a very mature way for a forth record. Putting much effort and thought into the details, ''Engraved in Black'' keeps an alive spirit, a vigorous feel for the basic instruments that cry with fury. Between dramatic (yet uplifting for all the beauty they hold) keyboard arrangements and metallic guitar harmonies, a little too high-pitched growl takes place, spewing out fear and desolation. If the low, manly growl also present compensates for this core-like knifed voice, I - for one - sure am glad the formation lost it over the years. Minus this poor artistic choice, the quintet still pursues aesthetics, making sure every song feels whole and profound. For variation and surprise elements, the Italians sign off almost every piece with a combination of calm, soft and melodic bridges. Sometimes guitars, sometimes acoustic, sometimes keyboards - the natural, pagan effect rises. Adding disparity and a completely different feeling to the overall sound, these moments are the most awaited on the record.

Is it only because TYPE O NEGATIVE appropriated the Gothic, horror tone as their signature? Well, probably, but still - there has got to be a slight influence somewhere jumbled in there. We could argue for hours whether GRAVEWORM drew inspiration from Doom Metal or not, but the facts still seem quite clear: as their music is faster, harsher and less abusive of on-going repetitions, the atmospheric and theatrical elements are present enough to at least admit the formation captures the foundations of the genre. Tracks such as ''Legions Unleashed'', ''Renaissance in Blood'' and ''Beauty of Malice'' capture the essence of Doom pretty well, while remaining brutally razor-edged. As true climax of the record, instrumental theme ''Thorns of Desolation'' lifted a new aspect of GRAVEWORM’s music. The four minute piece dedicates a cult to nature, striving to join the pagan and Celtic universe. Exquisite, fascinating, graceful and magnificent, this piece of artistry permits fans not only to abandon themselves, but also to observe the formation through different eyes. Though beauty only remains in the eye of the beholder so they say, there is no denying it this time: the creative ''Thorns of Desolation'' is no less than a boiling point in the quintet’s career. Without forgetting the captivating, sharp and jerky ''Apparition of Sorrow'', the album lives up to its intentions of setting emotions. While ''Drowned in Fear'' uses a cheesy, easy melody, the record builds a solid legacy the band should be more than proud of.

Being the reissue ''Engraved in Black'' is, GRAVEWORM somewhat managed to surprise us one last time. Ladies and gents, enter the most unattended moment in the history of Gothic metal… Well, actually, MARILYN MANSON once went down that road covering EURYTHMICS worldwide new-wave Pop hit ''Sweet Dreams (are made of this)'' in 1995… See where I'm going? GRAVEWORM, in their turn, offer a PET SHOP BOYS cover of ''It's a Sin'', humorously (yet ingeniously) closing the record. Now, through the perspective of dramatic acts such as our Italian quintet, there can be somewhat of an amusement into shaping a Dance-Pop single into a loathing piece of tragic. Therefore, almost re-writing and giving birth to a whole new sound, a completely different mood. Props to them, the formation tricks us into believing this song belongs to their repertoire. A bit too bouncy at first, it sounded rather unconvincing but with relentless keyboard arrangements and building up harmonies, the instrumental two minute version of a four minute song ended the record with great passion.

4 Star Rating

1. Dreaming Into Reality
2. Legions Unleashed
3. Renaissance in Blood
4. Thorns of Desolation
5. Abhorrence
6. Drowned in Fear
7. Beauty of Malice
8. Apparition of Sorrow
9. It's a Sin
Stefan Fiori - Vocals
Stefan Unterpertinger - Guitar
Eric Righi - Guitar
Florian Reiner - Bass
Maschtl Innerbichler - Drums
Record Label: Metal Mind Productions


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Edited 07 June 2023

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