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Graveworm – (N)utopia (Reissue)

(N)utopia (Reissue)
by Charlotte ''Downright Destructive'' Lamontagne at 08 July 2015, 7:26 PM

Tombstones, holy crosses and angel statues strike return, marking the universe built around the mysterious ''(N)utopia'', record released in 2005. Now hey, what were you expecting? After all, they go by the name GRAVEWORM for a reason. Having always been fascinated by somber atmospheres and night time strolls through cemeteries, the early 90's Italian formation had proven themselves to be dark, Gothic and Blackened Metal for the most. Now, having just released their 9th studio album stronger than ever, a couple reissues followed up. Putting back on the table this piece of experimentation, GRAVEWORM this time add a new cover song to the record, but we'll get to that later.

Death and afterlife aside, the 5th record from the band seems rock oriented before all. That is, if you consider the majority of the titles which sound way simpler in context and less dramatic then the usual GRAVEWORM material fans may be used to (such as ''Which Way'' or ''I, The Machine'', for instance). Well, this first impression turns out to be wrong, but not quite completely. The audacious and abrasiveness still find their way through the albums sound and – this being a bit of a bold statement – resembles a mixture of Symphonic… and Thrash. How is that possible? Glad you asked! Is it the rapid, aggressive playing? Or maybe the screechy, old school distortions? Sure, but probably also the pulsating and syncopated drums marking the rhythm as the guitars shred out a catchy riff. In any possible way, when not too brash, the melodies have a simpler aura. Still, way too heavy to be considered even near Rock, the structures and the general attitude certainly draw inspiration from the golden days and so, lean closer to Thrash for they are still very harsh. What may captivate your imagination and grab your attention for its unconventional forms, remains in the still very present keyboard arrangements. Just as fancy and Gothic as the band has always intended them to be, they polish up the final sound, therefore creating this Symphonic Thrash earlier mentioned. Though the focus is less oriented towards the funeral and somber aspects GRAVEWORM normally cherish, the darkened roots still spread around with great strength.

Starting off with a flayed, echoed guitar tone and a voluntarily bad sound quality (imitating the 80's, you can imagine), the headbanging aggression takes place. Vivacious, filled by mad keyboard skills and a truly Black Metal growl, ''I, The Machine'' hits with a never yet heard sound from the band. Just as absorbing and passionate as ''Hateful Design'' and it's authoritarian attitude, not to be trifled with, the band imposes a notorious spirit through the massiveness of their music. Metallic sounding instruments and old school classics later, you'll find yourself also hooked to the tragic pieces. ''Which Way'' may have a title which depicts confusion, but the song bleeds confidence, marching on it's own direction, melodiously. Further down the road, ''Deep Inside'', an experimental piece of rhythms, sounds and softer tones, was probably set to be the climax, or somewhat of an interlude where all pounding and keyboard solos could be put aside. While the initial idea and effect the band probably wanted to inspire within us fails, the emotions are still transmitted, but could have been more haunting (as it seems to be the first goal and desire behind this piece). For lack of profoundness and exploration of particular ideas, coming off as a jumble of repetitive themes instead of a precise concept, the ideas are lost and the overall song fades from the memory. Even though it fails to grip your attention, it's purpose seems quite relevant. ''Deep Inside'' draws a line, creates a pause and makes contrast for the hateful, enraged ''Outside Down'' up next. Sharp, cutthroat, GRAVEWORM ingeniously manage (once again), to turn the track around a give it an aesthetic twist, resulting in a tasteful creation.

Like many groups chose to do during their early days, the quintet seems to appreciate the idea of covering prestigious bands. Following the footsteps of bands like MEGADETH who used to add one cover per record, GRAVEWORM add one per reissue. Serving a frantic version of Alternative Rock Americans R.E.M.'s beloved single ''Losing My Religion'', the formation perfectly grasp the whole idea behind cover songs. In order to make one interesting and worth listening in comparison to the original version, you must modify its every bits until it fits your spirit… And GRAVEWORM wisely picked their ballad. Having much place to create and add Gothic themes to the melodic sections of the track, the bands version also shines during the intensifying moments of the piece, where the raging instruments forge a build-up of fervor.

''(N)utopia'' is aware of the strength it holds. The album has owned it, giving the impression it has mastered and tamed the power emanating from it. GRAVEWORM, in their good ol' habits, deliver a quality product, with fine preparation and finish. Sincere and from the guts, many different interpretations can be attributed to the record. Whether it being a reflection of power through pain or magnificent poetry, it will graciously slay your throat.

4 Star Rating

1. I, The Machine
2. (N)utopia
3. Hateful Design
4. Never Enough
5. Timeless
6. Which Way
7. Deep Inside
8. Outside Down
10. Losing My Religion (R.E.M. cover)
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 09 June 2023

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