Thursday, October 06, 2011

Graveland: Cold Winter Blades (EP, 2010)


Graveland is the one-man project of one Rob Darken. He is well-known in metal circles for espousing a racist, pagan weltanschauung and, to make sure everyone takes him and his ideas seriously, taking pictures of himself in the woods wearing Medieval armor and weilding swords. I've mentioned many times that I don't care about the political/religious persuasion of an artist, and that to me personally a racist worldview is somewhat less reprehensible than an anti-Christian worldview. So, let's get to the music.

Viking metal is not one of my primary listening foci, so I'm not really qualified to compare it to any other music in the genre. What I will say is that there is some excellent songwriting here, especially on closer "Dance of Axes and Swords". It's grandiose and aggressive, something like an ideal soundtrack to the battle scenes of The Lord of the Rings.

The drumming is the star of the show. It's relentless but varied blasting throughout the album. The guitars have some good black metal riffage, the vocals are a standard black metal rasp similar to 90's Satyricon, and there are synths. Lots of synths. Of course, they are the defining feature of Viking metal, and what they add is capital E Epic drama. They are a double-edged broadsword, though, because when they emulate symphonic sounds they sound good enough, but when they emulate choirs it ends up on the cheesy side.

Production-wise--well, it has cheesy synths and low-budget CG cover art, so how well do you think it's produced? It's too quiet, it's flat, the guitars are buried, the drums are muffled, the synths are too prominent, and I'm not even confident there's any bass played on the record. Lo-fi doesn't have to be crappy, but music this epic shouldn't be lo-fi in the first place. The music would be great if it was the kind of thing with a cheap hand-drawn cover and a good lo-fi production, or incredible if given the Dimmu Borgir treatment.

The Verdict: Very good music--especially drums--is the highlight of Graveland's Cold Winter Blades, but it suffers from excess cheese and terrible production. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.


  1. It must be grave week here at Full Metal Attorney.

  2. I was wondering if anyone would pick up on that without my announcing it.

  3. If you are a Christian, you have no business listening to metal. You are not welcome. And you will always know and feel that.

  4. On the contrary, I think it's a vocal but small minority of metalheads who feel that way.

  5. Metal is the music which results of ways of life and thinking against the sad Christian myth. Its heart has been black and its positions are a counterpoint to everything that the christian lie represents since Led Zeppelin was obsessed with Crowley and Hedonism and Sabbath was doing the same.

    The desperate appropriation of "christian metal" which exists is a ridiculous contradiction. Rock music in itself is antagonistic to Christian values.

    I know you like the music, but it is an offspring of the exact opposite regarding the values and traditions of the lies and the institution of obscurantism you are a part of.

    Just embrace your metal side and leave Christianity behind, man. It's a lie anyway and part of you knows it. You can find psychological comfort in other, more profound ways than believing myths and lies. You have a mind and freedom of intellect. Use it.

    And don't try to re-conciliate extreme metal and Christianity. Its not even the lyrics, or the image. The whole origin of the thing, from the lifestyles to the mentality to the values to the worldviews of extreme metal, everything in it is so much against all christian principles. You will live in a state of neurosis forever if you try to do it. Because you will have to lie to yourself, everyday.

    And you will have to suppress the knowledge that you are lying. And that's a horrible way to live.

  6. Music, in all its forms, is a gift from God. Atheists (e.g. the Nazis, Communists) and followers of false gods (e.g. the Taliban) are the ones who have tried to deny it and limit it. Rock music comes from God-given emotions. Don't forget that Christ himself raged against the money-changers in the temple. You should embrace this gift from God. Every part of you knows that God is real, except your stubborn pride.