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Graveflower : Returning to the Primary Source

Graveflower’s Doom Death is a perfect recapitulation of former but also current glories of the genre.

I’m always impressed by the capacity of Solitude Productions to find new bands to add to their roster. Just like any other label, they're sometimes blessed with great finds while other bands maybe should have waited a while longer until signing a contract. Graveflower, yet another Russian Doom Metal band, have just sprung out of nowhere (not saying Yekaterinburg was nowhere), having no previous releases and all of a sudden going all full-length this year with 'Returning to the Primary Source'. Was it a worthwhile “acquisition” for the Russian label?

Having discussed the album with fellow members of the staff, I have to say that the answer is not that obvious. With a title like 'Returning to the Primary Source', the listener is forewarned: there’s no innovation to be found here, rather a tribute to the genre’s elders (the “source”). Graveflower’s Doom Death is indeed a perfect recapitulation of former but also current glories of the genre, and one thing that will scream at you like a mad dog barking at the moon (preferably in a forlorn cemetery) is the band’s similarity to early My Dying Bride.

The influence is so flagrant that it’s no longer an influence but rather a perfect imitation with tracks that could have been featured on either 'Turn Loose the Swans' or 'The Angel and the Dark River', minus the violin. Though the growls of Graveflower’s singer are a bit deeper than those of Aaron, his clean singing may even make you think that MDB's frontman had been invited as a special guest on this album. And it's not only in the vocals, mind you, but the ambiances, the longer tracks, the breaks, the sound of the guitars, the drum fills, etc. Everything screams My Dying Bride. Which is exactly why it’ll be hard for the potential listener: Is it okay to go copycat all the way some twenty years later with the original band still active? Are bands allowed to express their love for past forefathers by means of such blatant similarity?

I'll answer this simply. There’s no mistaking that Graveflower use and abuse any and all My Dying Bride gimmicks. It’s a given that the band members do not even hide their love for the Brits, but unlike some bands which try and copy other bands and eventually fail in the end, Graveflower does a really fine job. Even though you'll end up thinking this is way too close, their songs have greatness and momentum, charisma and splendor just like My Dying Bride had in their beginnings. Basically, I’m saying that if you’re a fan of the aforementioned albums, it’s impossible to just dismiss Graveflower’s music – quite the contrary. On the other hand, if you felt those were good albums but that the world has kept turning ever since, you probably should not venture on Graveflower's tracks.

That being said, it’s probably welcome to say that past the seemingly impenetrable wall of My Dying Bride references, further plays will reveal that there is more to it than what strikes you at first glance. Let’s just say that there is indeed a primary source but also a few more secondary ones worth checking out. ‘My Turn’ or ‘Falling Leaves’ are all about the Brits, but you’ll also find old Pantheist on ‘White Noise’ or even some Saturnus on the shorter tracks, thus showing that Graveflower can wear more than one hat, though detractors may find this irrelevant in the end.

All in all, being a fan of My Dying Bride from the demo time, I can’t get enough of Returning to the Primary Source and have been under its spell from the very first play. Still, being a “fanboy” doesn‘t make me blind and I’ll know that some others will find this dull and not worth their money. Now that you know, it’s only up to you to either purchase or ignore this.

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Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. White Noise
2. My Turn
3. Rain in Inferno
4. Just a Moment
5. Falling Leaves
6. Autumn Within
7. Rain Without End

Duration : Approx. 77 minutes

Visit the Graveflower bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-06-22 by Frédéric Cerfvol
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