Hailing from Kaiserslautern, Germany, Adorned Graves advertise their sound as one of Old School Thrash with a touch of Doom Metal and their debut ep certainly lived up to that billing. Two years have passed since that ep and now Adorned Graves have released their debut full length, Out From the Depth of the Grave, a near concept album telling the tale of Jonah from the Old Testament. The album itself was recorded, produced, and mixed by guitarist Andreas Wormser at MUSICWORMSER K-Town in April of 2017.
Back in 2015, I had received Adorned Graves ep, The Hand of Death to review and the first track, “Adorned Graves” simply blew me away with its mix of old school Slayer and Black Sabbath with a touch of Halford. At the time it was some of the best metal I had heard for a while and it ended up on my “Best of” list for the year, so needless to say, I went into this review with very high expectations. A simple look at the song list can often tell a lot and in this case, you get eleven songs and nearly one hour of music and when you consider that a couple tracks are short interludes, it becomes apparent that there are some long songs here. Without having a chance to learn this, I thought the opening track was going to be a short intro song as “Out of the Deep” has a strong goth feel to it. Combine some dark acoustic guitar and throughout the song Cailen Wormser’s and guest vocalist’s Manuel’s smooth, deep vocals with some atmospheric keyboards and you have a great goth track. Later in the track, the full band comes in and things get louder but the pacing and choral-like vocals remain to carry the song to the end, nearly seven minutes later.
So now I was a bit confused as to what I was going to hear, but then “Opus One” kicks in in high gear in full 80’s thrash sounding much like it could have been something off Metallica’s Ride the Lightning. After the slower, building intro the song sets into a bit of a groove before shifting into full-blown thrash.
The next track “Primal Ocean” begins with some keyboard effects and some spoken Hebrew until a lone guitar begins sounding out some sorrowful notes. The full band comes in and the heavy riffs and tone to me suggest this is going to be another intro to a thrash song or there is some doom in store. A pounding riff with some whispered vocals takes over for a bit and then a near black metal doom riff comes in to take over. At this point, your four minutes into the song and it breaks and restarts in fast thrash mode but only for a while. Needless to say, there are a lot of transitions in the song as it starts, stops, and restarts often in a different style but when you have nearly eight minutes, you have time to accommodate this and even include a rather blistering guitar solo to close out the song.
“Hydrophis Archaios” returns the listener to the realm of Slayer and Metallica as does “Gorge of LIwija” and of course my beloved track “Adorned Graves”, while songs like the nine minute long Psalm 88 slow the tempo down to a grinding pace and are more doom metal – like. For “Psalm 88”, that really makes sense if you know anything about the Psalm as it is mostly David crying out to God at the pit of despair and in contrast to Psalm 77 which starts out similar but eventually is resolved, Psalm 88 doesn’t have a clear resolution. “Gorge of Liwija” is similar in nature to Psalm 88 and begins with some spoken words and atmospheric thunder in the background before the sorrowful guitar comes in to really begin the song, but in contrast to “Psalm 88”, the song eventually does enter thrash territory even if for a fairly brief time. Perhaps fittingly, the album closes out with the brightest song “Source of Life” which has a similar pacing and acoustic beginning that reminds me of Metallica’s “Fade to Black”, but in this case the song conveys a sense of hope.
In all honesty, I initially was not expecting anything but thrash on this album but was treated to so much more. The outright thrash songs are as good as I had hoped based on my expectations from the ep. Every time I listen to the album, I hear more. Doom elements reminiscent of bands like Trouble and Black Sabbath suddenly come to the forefront at times while at other times it is definitely Metallica, Slayer, and Vengeance Rising that are providing inspiration. Throughout it all, the performances are strong and in particular there are a lot of subtle fills and adds from both the drums and guitars that add nice complexity to the overall sound. I closed out my review of their ep talking about the high expectations for the full length and Adorned Graves did not disappoint…great album!
Written by John Jackson
01. Out Of The Deep
02. Opus One
03. Primal Ocean
04. Hydrophis Archaios
05. Psalm 88
06. Invocation Of Liwija
07. Gorge Of Liwija
08. S.alvation O.f The S.ea
09. Adorned Graves
10. Source Of Life
Cailen Leif Graever- Vocals, rhythm guitars, bass
Deafon Graever – Drums, vocals
Andreas Wormser – Lead guitars, bass
Manuel – guest vocals on first part of “Out of the Deep”
Heike – guest vocals on “Invocation of Liwija”
Heko Axel – Bass on “Opus One”, “Psalm 88”, “Invocation of Liwija”, and “Adorned Graves”
Record Label: Independent, Aug. 2017
“The Hand of Death” EP (2015) [review]
Video (audio) for ‘Out Of The Deep’ (sample)
Video (audio) for ‘Adorned Graves’ (sample)
Video (audio) for ‘Psalm 88’ (sample)
Video (audio) for ‘S.alvation O.f The S.ea’ (sample)