Review: Graveyard – Hold Back The Dawn

Graveyard – Hold Back The Dawn (War Anthem Records)
Review by Milos Sebalj

There are always the highest expectations when a band you’re a big fan of announces a new record. Thus, you can imagine I was quite excited when the word of a new Graveyard album came through. Lady luck has been good to me and sent me an advance promo package, so my happiness excelled beyond reason. And what an album this is…

Spanish quintet has made a fine reputation for themselves over the course of the last 12 years, and “Hold Back The Dawn” is their fourth full length effort. However, Graveyard were never known for being lazy so the next release might be just around the corner, be it a split album (for which they are renowned), EP or a compilation of rare recordings. Hence a fairly vast discography. Now, a while back, with their second album “The Sea Grave” they have embarked on a quest to complete a tetrarchy dedicated to the works of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. As a sort of “last week on Graveyard” I will simply mention that they did one hell of a job on the first two chapters, forming an atmosphere that captures the unknown horror that the famous author so brilliantly described. Seems like the main challenge for the Spaniards was to grow musically along with the theme, while staying faithful to the concept.

For those of you unfamiliar with the band, Graveyard is deeply rooted in the ancient Swedish Death Metal sound. However, throughout their career they have always strayed a bit from the general description of the genre. First of all, they are not Swedish. Jokes aside, Graveyard uses whatever template they find useful to their purpose. One can easily recognize massive Doom Metal atmospheric passages, classical Heavy Metal guitar bravados, almost Bluesy epilogue of the album… Not to forget the bombastic, chanting passage in “Hurled Unto Damnation”. While the traditional aggression is preserved, the atmospheric aura again rules the overall soundscape, with little to no input by keyboards and samples, but greatly helped by Julkarn’s raspy gutturals. Much like the works of Lovecraft, the album builds up the tension without relying on the ‘instant hit’ or a single track to stand out. The entire length of the record is submitted to creating the essence of the tale to be told. That been said, the biggest plus this band and its albums bring is the simple fact that while mostly focusing on the emotional (as far as the emotion might go in such a genre) side of the songs, Graveyard never forgets the essence of any Rock (or Metal) song, his majesty, the riff. Guitar work remains exceptional, whether loading memorable riffs into the mind of the listener or highlighting with omnipresent solos. As the promo sheet announces, attention to details is the one thing to separate this band from a flood of others within today’s hyper productive scene.

When I say details, I mean every detail possible. The songs themselves do not keep to a certain form. They are well varied in their creation, lead through from start to finish with the sole intention of bringing the needed feeling out, in whichever way needed. What’s more, this album is yet to be released as I’m writing this but judging from my experience the layout of the album will be another piece of the puzzle to fit perfectly. Just by looking at the front cover drawing by Matthew ‘Putrid Matt’ Carr you can realize what I’m talking about. Being the long time designer for the band he knows what the guys are looking for and never fails to deliver. As the band’s guitar player Javi Félez was responsible for recording and mixing (while mastering was outsourced to Resonance Sound Studios) you can guess “Hold Back The Dawn” sounds exactly like the band intended it.

The pre-orders for the album are open. You can pick any format desirable, physical or digital. And, if I was you, I would take up the offer. This release is most definitely worth your attention. Well, if you take my words seriously, you should check out the previous albums first. It will help you delve deeper into what Graveyard has to show. So, listen in correct order and listen carefully. Satisfaction guaranteed!

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