Adorned Graves is back with Being Towards a River, which sees the band continuing in their journey started with Out From the Depth of the Grave where they expertly crafted songs with elements of thrash, doom, and goth.
Adorned Graves first caught my attention in 2015 with the release of their ep The Hand of Death, and the title track that expertly blended elements of thrash and doom, sounding like a mix of Slayer and Black Sabbath. In 2017 the band released their first full length, Out From the Depth of the Grave, which instantly surprised me as the band crafted songs far more complex than on the debut ep, which leaned heavily toward the thrash end of things. The Kaiserslautern, Germany based band advertise their sound as one of Old School Thrash with a touch of Doom Metal and that would be a fair description. Similar to their last album which took on the story of Jonah, this one has a deeper overall concept to it as well. In this case the band had planned an outright speed and thrash ep, but during the writing process, things took a different turn and the band looked toward the river as a symbol of life and time with the idea of taking the listener on a journey from a river’s beginnings to its end in a allegory of life’s journey.
Perhaps taking some cues from Metallica who I hear in many of their songs, “Swallet Hole” opens with clean guitar reminiscent of that in the opening of “One”. Keyboards add atmosphere to this solemn track with spoken lyrics. Later in the track layered guitar solos elevate the track and set up the listener for the storm that is about to begin. Similar to their previous albums, production is clean and has a bit of an organic feel to it where all the instruments and vocals are clear and contribute to the overall sound and feel of the tracks.
“Killing Shadow Black” explodes into a fast, thrash riff quickly punctuated by a high-pitched scream before the verses start. Guitars are fast and the rhythm section carries the song along a fast rate and the care taken in the mix is evident in the breakdown sections where just the guitar riffs move the song. This song is exactly what I’ve come to expect from the band.
“Effervescent Torrent” has a bit more of a melodic opening with another high-pitched scream changing the course of the song and kicking off a riff sounding a lot like something Dave Mustaine would have created for Megadeth. The song itself ebbs and flows a bit differently than one would expect with an almost power-metal feel in parts punctuated by some other parts than make one think some doom metal is coming. Throughout the song, there are some interesting guitar and drum parts and the turns the song takes are always a bit unexpected and there are many twists and turns in this 3 part, 9 minute long track. “Panta Rhei” is almost the exact opposite in terms of approach as the band goes for catchy melodies and driving riffs in a much shorter track but also featuring Dale Thompson’s vocals like in “Efferevescent Torrent”.
Separating the tracks with guest vocalists, the band inserted an instrumental track the likes of which you may have heard in some of the older Metallica albums. Everything from groove-heavy sections to more plodding, punchy riffs can be found within the track, making it a great metal instrumental .
“United Reliance” shows the band again going in a slightly different direction in terms of overall sound but still staying close to the thrash genre and here the band enlisted Herbie Langhans to provide some guest vocals. A slower opening settles into a bit of faster groove brining in some Sabbath-like elements and eventually moving on towards to parts sounding a bit like Anthrax. As with many songs on the album, there are a lot of different elements that go into even the shorter songs.
Dale Thompson returns and joins Ruth Börner Staub in providing guest vocals for the second epically long track on the album, the nearly 12 minute “Rheingold”. A clean guitar line opens up the track but eventually is joined by the rest of the band as they launch into a nearly 8 minute section that sounds a bit like something Iron Maiden would write. After a short interlude, the main riff returns with a great guitar solo over the top, again highlighting the strong musicianship on the album.
The album closes with “Towards a River” featuring Herbie Langhans and Ruth Börner Staub on guest vocals and is pretty clear departure from the thrash and doom of the earlier tracks. Vocals are great and the clean guitar layered over that groove-heavy melody work very well. Taken on its own, this song may seem out of place but after listening to the whole album it works. The composition and blending of the vocals are haunting and simply can’t be ignored, ironically making one of the quieter tracks on the album, one of the strongest. Of course, some Sabbath-like riffs eventually make an appearance toward the end of the song, but by then the band has demonstrated that power in sound doesn’t always require thunderous drums and heavy riffs.
Much like their previous full-length, which I enjoyed, I went into this album with a set of expectations on what I was going to hear and again, I was treated to more than I expected. The thrash songs are done with an expert touch as they have since their ep, but now there are catchy choruses, stronger melodies and more intricate song structures that further serve to highlight the strengths of the musicians. Adorned Graves continue to impress…
Written by John Jackson
- Swallet Hole
- Killing Shadow Black
- Effervescent Torrent
- Panta Rhei
- Meandering Stream
- United Reliance
- Towards a River
Cailen Leif Graever- Vocals, rhythm guitars, bass
Deafon Graever – Drums, vocals
Andreas Wormser – Lead guitars, bass
Dale Thompson (Bride) vocals on “Panta Rhei”, “Effervescent Torrent” and “Rheingold”
Ruth Börner Staub vocals on “Towards a River”
Herbie Langhans (Firewind, ex Sinbreed) vocals on “United Reliance”, “Towards a River” and “Rheingold”
Release Date: August 20th. 2020
Record Label: Independent
Lyric Video ‘United Reliance’
Lyric video for ‘Panta Rhei’