Grava – Weight Of A God
Release Date: 28/11/22
Running Time: 27:34
Review by Dark Juan
Hello again. It is I, Dark Juan and it should be pointed out that Mrs Dark Juan has foolishly left me unattended as she has gone to The Centre for Folklore, Myth and Magic up in Todmorden (yes, in Yorkshire we have a town that is called Deathmurder in German. Unsurprisingly I quite like the place) and I have debauched myself singularly since she has been gone by dint of napping, chocolate coated choc-chip cookies and lashings of hot tea, don’t you know? My tastes for the abstruse and the baser pleasures continue to be unchecked as I have just had some cheese on toast. With pepper on it.
Satan, may you forever guide me as I indulge myself shamelessly to satisfy your whims. I may even have a vegetarian bacon sandwich shortly.
Today’s subject is “Weight Of A God” by Danish “sludge unit” (their words and I dig that term because they couldn’t really be classed as a band judging by the naked Lovecraftian horror sliming its way out of my headphones) Grava – a three-piece based in Copenhagen, they have only been together as a unit since 2020 and this long player represents their debut album. As an experience it can be charitably described as “somewhat uncomfortable”, mainly because the band were absolutely committed to committing (heh. I love shit wordplay) the rough sound of a live performance onto this record, and therefore there are deliberate serrated edges all over the fucking shop as well as some of the most vein-bulgingly, eye-poppingly committed vocals I’ve heard since Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein opened his cruelly tortured throat, from both Atli Brix Kamban and Neils Asger Svensson. Both of these august gentlemen apparently have decided that singing is not for them, choosing instead to employ the kind of demented howling, grunting and roaring that would not be out of place in a torture chamber in Hell where many miscreants were being brutally anally raped by a huge-cocked demon who REALLY enjoys his work. Who has backward facing hooks on his schlong. Yes, this album’s vocals could serve as the soundtrack to eternal damnation by buggery all by themselves before we even begin to discuss the overpowered, ridiculously hirsute, ultrafuzzy Sludge that passes for music. This album is proof that fast does not always equal heavy. This is plutonium pants time. With all your female relatives wearing them. This is amply displayed on album closer ‘The Pyre’ where there is an almost stationary central riff with much dissonance that just repeats and repeats until a violently fuzzed up church organ and choral singing (also massively fucked about with) takes over and just builds in intensity and power and electronic interference until the poor listener is suffering mucho cranial trauma and leaking blood from nose and eyes as the aural pressure builds and builds and builds until the metaphorical explosion occurs and the sound fades at the same rate as the blood and life force ebbing from yet another victim of a stunningly successful sonic attack…
The album opens with ‘Waves’ and there is absolutely ZERO fucking about from the band as they crash straight in to a shockingly violent song about the final moments of shipwrecked men drowning in icy seas. Dissonance is the order of the day on the guitar and bass and the whole song is an experience not unlike being dragged under the tracks of a main battle tank whose driver is an out and out sadist and is crushing you inch by inch under 60-odd tonnes of warlike steel, diesel and ceramic laminate. ‘Bender’ (being the second song and not the misanthropic character from Futurama, unless these Danish Sludge merchants decided to write an ultra-heavy song about a poorly drawn robot with a similar attitude to Dark Juan) is even heavier. It’s like having an entire planet dropped on your head and there is no subtlety or finesse displayed by Grava either. This entire record is designed to be one of the heaviest things ever created and that’s it. It is analogous to slogging through heavy, waist deep snow to try to escape the grinding mass of the volcanic eruption that’s happening behind you and the slowly moving magma flow, carrying the weight of buildings and forests it has already consumed, is GAINING on you no matter how much you struggle and try to go faster…
Even the solos (such as they are, being as they are mainly violent screaming sounds) and the middle eights aren’t particularly finessed. Guitars mean one thing to this band and that is that they operate as weapons of mass destruction. The bass is designed to cut the guts out of nearby passers-by and the drummer (Casper Axilgård) has decided that there is no such thing as a hi-hat or a china cymbal and just belts the ever-loving shit out of the fucking crash for all he’s worth. Also, judging by the power with which he’s battering his tubs on ‘Alight’, he costs himself a fortune in new skins every song because that is not drumming. That’s just fucking up equipment because you’re a violent and unpredictable bastard and he’s picturing it being human faces he’s pummelling.
Surprisingly, for a band that is so sonically uncompromising, the production and mix on this album is pretty excellent. Ably handled by Troels Damgaard Holm (which I REFUSE to believe is a real name. Mainly because it makes Dark Juan’s real name look like a bag of British shit) it has somehow managed to retain coherence and a measure of clarity in the face of a band who are only bothered about pushing the boundaries of what can be considered acceptable levels of distortion. Here’s a hint – no-one but the most committed lover of Sludge would ever consider the distortion level of Grava to be anything less than “This goes to eleven.” Grava have pushed it up to about seventeen and appear to be lamenting the fact that if they push it any harder they are going to crack the borders of reality and let all kinds of warp-corrupted spawn into our dimension. Songs have an easily understood structure even though it is frequently hidden behind a wall of sound so immense wightwalkers wouldn’t stand a chance trying to get up it and all the instruments can be cleanly discerned, even if the overall sound is forcing your eyeballs out of your skull. The album is a short one, clocking in at around 27 and a half minutes, but this is because the songs are not drawn out creations, they are short, sharp, sludgy shocks that deliver their payloads and are done with and discarded in preparation for the next attack…
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Det patenterede Dark Juan blodsprøjtvurderingssystem) awards Grava 9/10 for a shockingly good debut album, that has a mark deducted because it might be considered too extreme unless you are a seasoned Sludge veteran. Dark Juan of course fucking loves it. Especially ‘The Pyre’ with that absolutely lethal repeating riff and slowly growing ecumenical menace from the utterly bastardised church organ.
06. Appian Way
07. The Pyre
Atli Brix Kamban – Vocals, guitar
Niels Asger Svensson – Bass, vocals
Casper Axilgård – Drums
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