Earthen Grave have been around since late 2008 and are a Chicago based doom metal band. This band of six has somehow gone out and captured the old style of American doom à la Trouble and Saint Vitus without being a worship band to either or any for that matter.
These gentleman and lady have taken a nostalgic genre and added their own modern flair and feel, creating a most unique sound! How can it not be unique when you have your own classically trained violinist playing center stage for you? Rachel Barton-Pine is not an accent or afterthought within EG, she is integral with the band. Her violin (which for those who may not know, is some flying V looking thing with flames on it, how utterly cool is that) is so well integrated into the soundscape, its hard to imagine that they could perform without her. This is the band’s self titled debut LP on the heels of a EP released in 2009.
Opening their self titled LP with the title track gives the listener a quick exposure to the world of Earthen Grave and just what we are in for. What may seem as a nod to Candlemass, in fact maybe a slight tip of a hat nothing more. Drop dead doomy riffs, soulful vocals from Mark and creative notes of Tony and Rachel with Jason chunking along really deliver a unique stamp on this genre. Although a more melodic approach than many other doom bands in this vein, it just works to really define EG and their own approach and interpretation of their landscape of life.
Listeners get their first glimpse of violin flair in the second track, ‘Life Carries On’, introduction and through the choruses she is very prominent. Just listening to the complimentary way that Tony and Rachel exchange the notes while Jason, Ron, and Scott chug it through is quite the experience. It is a creative masterpiece how they have integrated all these elements into this cohesive track. To be honest I think even Tipton and Downing would be impressed with this track in particular.
My personal standout track on this release is ‘Tilted World’ its that one piece that encompasses Earthen Grave, for me personally. Nice low end riffs, interesting noted solos, perfect percussion work, great sing along chorus. it really has everything that Earthen Grave has to offer and oh yes there is Ms Barton-Pine there too, how could there not be. Lyrically for me one of the more interesting offers on this piece, you know that song that may see so simplistic yet on the the third or fourth run through you realize, its beauty in that simplicity.
‘Death on the High Seas’ concludes the release and weighs in at a mighty 10 minutes, they certainly have embraced their forefathers and not afraid to run a longer track. The violin riffs at the beginning are a real treat for us, and now I know it is possible to riff on a violin. Its this and all 10 tracks of this LP that we learn violins need not only be a instrument of the gothic style but can be incorporated artfully and perfectly into other styles.
In short this is one of the most unique doom sounds I have heard in a long time. This Chicago based band has certainly offset themselves from their peers. Given their respective pedigrees this should be of no surprise. This metal collective are true professionals crafting a unique blend of past, present and future. This is one of those stand alone debut LPs that immediately solidify a band, we can only hope that their sophomore release is sooner rather than later.