Out of the dust of The Memory Remains, Roger Koedoot and Maurice Lefeu formed Grave Decay as a two-man symphonic death metal project originally slated to record a three track demo, but once in the studio they had enough inspiration to create the 10 songs on From Dust to Dust, and brought in Ruben van der Kooj for mixing and mastering. Roger and Maurice have both been in metal bands for many years, with Roger being a guitarist for doom metal band Morphia from 1998-2005. In 2011 the two teamed up for a few projects including The Memory Remains which lasted several years and saw them share stages with the likes of Innerwish, Xandria, Living Sacrifice, Windrose and more, eventually bringing them to the realization they wanted to return to their thrash/doom roots but bring in some symphonic elements as well….and Grave Decay was born. Due to distance and being an online collaboration with life getting in the way, the album took a full 10 months to complete. While on the surface, the name Grave Decay seems perfect for a death metal band, the reality is that the “grave” translates better to “serious” and “decay” to “downfall” reflecting the nature of their songs about the fall of humanity, failings of society and the struggles to learn and grow in such a setting.
As is often the case with symphonic metal albums, the first track “Reinception” is essentially an instrumental that in this case sounds as if it could be from a horror movie but there is a bit of guitar feedback around the 10 second mark that really caught my ear. A little bit latter the rumble of drums and banging of sticks comes in with some solo guitar layered in, and this approach really set the tone for the album.
“State of Decay” starts out in a completely different direction as a straightforward death metal track with symphonic elements not really becoming apparent until the first chorus/bridge section. The guitars on the album really stand out and that may have something to do with having two guitarists in the two man project, but the why isn’t really important as the result is great. Mixing and production are good on the album as well and sonically, my only complaint is that I would have liked the drums to have a bit more of an edge to them. Vocals are the deep, raspy, growled death type and fit the songs well, a bit like some Steve Rowe (Mortification) and the guitar solos also work well within the songs being impressive without being the focal point.
“Cognitive Dissonance” incorporates keyboards from the beginning but as is the case with the majority of the album, they play a supporting role. The song has a crazy riff/guitar line that carries through most of the song and the band makes good use of the two guitars, at times playing in unison while at other times taking different parts. Toward the end of the song there is a spoken section as the song shifts and the first appearance of the lone guitar riff, all of which are so good on this album. As the rest of the instruments go silent, to have that lone guitar playing a great riff is so powerful and there are several cases of that on this album.
Lyrically, the songs address a number of the dark issues of our times including abuse by church leaders “Bloodbound”, which starts with a driving rhythm only to shift into a thrash section following one of those lone guitar riffs mentioned earlier and from there moves into a great guitar solo. Included with the rest of the songs is one on more of a personal level. “Silent Suffering (Carolina)” is a tribute to Maurice’s late mother who passed away earlier this year and her struggle with a rare muscle disease for over 40 years, during which she bravely faced down the disease and refused to give up. This song of hope and encouragement starts out with an orchestral arrangement that hearkens back to a time before metal as we know it and continues in the background as the metal guitars and drums pick up the tune. The song takes a bit of quieter interlude following “your last breath and call” before the second guitar solo comes in to close out the track on a note of hope.
The band slows things down a bit for “Time” which interestingly enough is about how everyone has to live their life one hour at a time, 60 minutes, and the song itself is 60bpm, which moves it into the realm of doom for me. The underlying riff is an interesting one, keeping the song interesting and even with the slow pounding of the beat, the song seems to take on a life of its own, demonstrating the creativity in the songcrafting. The album closes with the longest track on the album “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” perhaps a nod to Great White but certainly not a cover tune. Clean guitars and symphonic elements fill the beginning of the song, providing the backdrop to harsh whispered vocals. Out of nowhere, thrash riffs explode, accompanied by drum backing the fully supports the faster parts of the riff. The song itself is about rising after a fall and learning from the mistakes that brought you down.
I always worry about symphonic metal projects as they tend to struggle with identifying with either the symphonic side or the metal side and many end up a bit confused from a sound perspective. Grave Decay chose the metal side and never strayed from their choice. Guitars are loud and there are some great thrash-influenced metal riffs as well as some clean guitars to add a bit of contrast and variety to the sound. A most impressive debut…
Written by John Jackson
02. State Of Decay
03. Cognitive Dissonance
05. Grave Mystery
07. Boots On The Ground
08. Silent Suffering (Carolina)
10. Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Roger Koedoot: Guitars/Vocals
Maurice ‘Mauce’ Lefeu: Lead Guitars
Both Roger/Maurice: Bass/Drums/Orchestral arrangements
Record Label: Independent
Release Date: Oct. 2018
Lyric video for ‘State of Decay’
Video for “From Dust To Dust” Album Teaser