Gravetemple - Impassable Fears review




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Band: Gravetemple
Album: Impassable Fears
Release date: June 2017


01. A Szarka (The Magpie)
02. Elavúlt Földbolygó (World Out Of Date)
03. A Karma Karmai (Karmas Claws)
04. Domino
05. Athatolhatatlan Félelmek (Impassable Fears)
06. Az Örök Végtelen Üresség (Eternal Endless Void)


With my drone adventurism for the current year, up til this point I had been coming across some pretty good releases, but none that seriously knocked my socks off. Then Gravetemple entered the picture.

The band name may be unfamiliar to some, but the musicians involved shouldn't be, at least if you're a fan of darker, more experimental forms of music. This powerhouse of droney, dark ambient music is composed of none other than the legendary Attila Csihar on vocal duty, Stephen O'Malley and Oren Ambarchi on guitars, and the talented Matt Sanders on drums. This group has kept up a lovely variation between electronic, ambient-based material and more metallic, doomy material up to this point, and Impassable Fears, their second full length, sits more in that second area. The most obvious band to compare to here, especially given the involvement of Csihar and O'Malley, would be Sunn O))), but even with that similarity, Gravetemple still maintain a strong sense of their own identity. Though maintaining a dark, smothering, and imposing drone doom core like Sunn O))), this project also makes heavy use of impressive drum work via Sanders, some brighter, atmospheric moments like on closer "Az Örök Végtelen Üresség (Eternal Endless Void)," and an overall wider variety of guitar techniques, all of which serve as big differentiators.

What really makes Gravetemple most impressive, both with Impassable Fears and their past material, is how much a feeling comes out of each musician being equally important for the band. No one ever seems to overshadow anyone else here, and each member delivers an absolutely phenomenal performance. O'Malley and Ambarchi let their guitar work snake around each other, with curious deliveries ranging from repetitious, extended drones to more complex techniques oozing of psychedelic and (pleasantly surprising!) black metal influence. Matt Sanders does a wonderful job of making his drum work guide the music, sometimes giving a steady, pulsing delivery and at other letting crazier, almost jazz like rhythms simmer and bubble underneath the droney muck. Indeed, a difficult trick to pull off in a genre in which drums are often an anomaly. And of course, there's Attila. I don't need to tell you about this man's incredible talent with a wide range of vocal techniques. Here, instead of dominating in the forefront, his voice is more hushed and sort of blended into the mix, appearing as some sort of beastly power attempting to break free from a cage, which helps enormously with making the music sound more suffocating and suspenseful (see "Elavúlt Földbolygó (World Out Of Date)" especially).

Most notably, in terms of the careers of the musicians involved, Impassable Fears really redeems Stephen O'Malley's songwriting after the rather lackluster Sunn O))) albums that were Soused and Kannon. For a while now I've gotten the impression that this guy does better with his non-Sunn O))) work, and that seems to be the case, as his 2014 collab with Ambarchi and Randall Dunn, the new Æthenor from last year. and this new Gravetemple effort all suggest. For Attila, Ambarchi, and Matt Sanders, it's just one more high note to add to their already impressive resumes. As I began by saying in this review, there have already been several very good releases this year for drone. Being a genre so inclined to experimentation and creativity, it never really has a "bad year." But Gravetemple is going to have something the other bands lack. More variation. More potent songwriting. Better production. Better.... everything, perhaps. The moment of truth for drone metal in 2017 has arrived. Play it loud.

Enter.


 



Written on 10.06.2017 by Comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable since 2013.


Comments

Comments: 11   Visited by: 112 users
11.06.2017 - 07:00
Maratha
Thanks for the review, I'm very much impressed by this album! SOMA & CO. individually are some of the most daring artists in the extreme and avant garde fraternity by a long shot, drone would be the closest tag they can be associated with. SOMA's musical explorations can be found here, some of which are really weird, and are unrelated to what he actually comes up with in the studio
https://www.redbullradio.com/shows/stephen-omalley-presents-acid-quarry-paris
But hey, I really love that album Soused by Sunn O))), a lackluster word by your standard choices is a bit harsh.
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11.06.2017 - 15:01
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by Maratha on 11.06.2017 at 07:00

But hey, I really love that album Soused by Sunn O))), a lackluster word by your standard choices is a bit harsh.

Nah, I'm not too big a fan of Soused, sorry. Pretty poor collab in my book, for several reasons. First, Scott Walker wasn't the best choice for a collab with Sunn O))) to begin with, Sunn O))) being mammoths of drone doom and Scott being some "Avantgarde I took too much LSD something or other." Other bands that Sunn O))) have collabed with, like Boris, Ulver, and Nurse With Wound, fit a lot better because they're stylistically closer. Most notably, Soused sounds more like "Scott Walker ft. Sunn O)))" to me, probably because it feels as though Sunn O))) adapted their style to Scott more than Scott did to them. Part of that is definitely due to Scott's vocals, which are quite powerful and overwhelming. This isn't a bad thing, but he definitely could have tempered that a bit to fit better into a drone environment. Take Attila for example: he also has an extremely powerful, overwhelming voice, but he knows how to hush it down a little bit to better suit the musical approach of bands like Sunn O))) and Gravetemple. With a collab, ideally each party blends into each other in a seamless fusion. Soused is definitely not a "seamless fusion," if you ask me.

Making that relevant to Gravetemple, the reason this album works as well as it does is due to the fact that you have musicians involved who are all incredibly talented at adapting their approaches to the approaches of other musicians. I mean if you listen to this album and then check out some of the other stuff in SOMA's, Attila's, Amarchi's, and Sanders' discographies, some of it is about as far removed from Gravetemple as could possibly be. They are all extremely flexible composers. Again, musical collaborations work best when musicians have a good talent for bending their sounds.
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Written by RaduP on 14.01.2016 at 02:08

So you're not actually a bearded shaman opening his third eye through music?
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12.06.2017 - 12:09
Maratha
Written by Apothecary on 11.06.2017 at 15:01

Written by Maratha on 11.06.2017 at 07:00

But hey, I really love that album Soused by Sunn O))), a lackluster word by your standard choices is a bit harsh.


With a collab, ideally each party blends into each other in a seamless fusion. Soused is definitely not a "seamless fusion," if you ask me.

I mean if you listen to this album and then check out some of the other stuff in SOMA's, Attila's, Amarchi's, and Sanders' discographies, some of it is about as far removed from Gravetemple as could possibly be. They are all extremely flexible composers. Again, musical collaborations work best when musicians have a good talent for bending their sounds.


Soused was even promoted as Scott O))) on Merchs giving it a Scott Walker weightage, indicating thats what was intended for it. For Sunn O)))s collaborations Ulver is the best in imo, while Altar and Soused are on par with keeping the albums engaging by having new compositions and song structures on every track through and through. I mean they're very much experimental, on Altar an unknown kind of drone can be found thanks to Boris, unlike Soused which has a dark industrial/power electronics vibe with down tempo and eerie aged vocals. Altar has got an edge over Soused just because of the more drone factor. So yeah, comparatively Soused although enjoyable is well at the collab bottom as I really haven't properly listened to the NWW one, Sunn O))) full lengths haven't let me.

Gravetemple being an independent band/project altogether have created a unique and solid composition going far beyond their past individual discographies. it is always interesting to see what these guys can come up with for the love of heavy music. So I agree on the review wholeheartedly. There is also this another band Nazoranai with SOMA, Keiji Hano and Ambarchi which can stand next to Gravetemple.
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13.06.2017 - 00:30
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by Maratha on 12.06.2017 at 12:09

Soused was even promoted as Scott O))) on Merchs giving it a Scott Walker weightage, indicating thats what was intended for it. For Sunn O)))s collaborations Ulver is the best in imo, while Altar and Soused are on par with keeping the albums engaging by having new compositions and song structures on every track through and through.

Gravetemple being an independent band/project altogether have created a unique and solid composition going far beyond their past individual discographies. it is always interesting to see what these guys can come up with for the love of heavy music. So I agree on the review wholeheartedly. There is also this another band Nazoranai with SOMA, Keiji Hano and Ambarchi which can stand next to Gravetemple.

I remember hearing that about Soused, but even so, that's not really how to properly conduct an artistic collaboration between two artists, if you ask me. One shouldn't really overshadow the other. Granted, I probably would've really enjoyed that album had it been 50% Scott, 50% Sunn O))), but it's more like 80% Scott, 20% Sunn O))).

For Sunn O))) collabs I'd probably go...
1. Altar
2. Terrestrials
3. Sunn O))) Meets Nurse With Wound
4. Soused

And I need to check out Nazoranai now that you mentioned it, sounds great! By the way, have you checked SOMA's collab with Ambarchi and Randall Dunn that I mentioned at the end of this review? It's seriously good, makes me wish they'd form a full fledged band together
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Written by RaduP on 14.01.2016 at 02:08

So you're not actually a bearded shaman opening his third eye through music?
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20.06.2017 - 04:33
mz
Sounds too messy to be honest. The drumming is so disruptive and annoying, it does not let any "drone mood" to be created. Should I also dare to say that the vocals are not that great?
This will not be even in my top 10 drone records of this year, given the sheer brilliance of the genre recently.
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Giving my ears a rest from music.
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20.06.2017 - 15:27
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by mz on 20.06.2017 at 04:33

Sounds too messy to be honest. The drumming is so disruptive and annoying, it does not let any "drone mood" to be created. Should I also dare to say that the vocals are not that great?
This will not be even in my top 10 drone records of this year, given the sheer brilliance of the genre recently.

I gotta love it when the past three albums I've reviewed on here all have average ratings < 7. Seems I have some pretty shit taste. Please correct my errors and point me to the "right" drone releases from this year
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Written by RaduP on 14.01.2016 at 02:08

So you're not actually a bearded shaman opening his third eye through music?
Loading...
21.06.2017 - 00:51
mz
Written by Apothecary on 20.06.2017 at 15:27


I gotta love it when the past three albums I've reviewed on here all have average ratings < 7. Seems I have some pretty shit taste. Please correct my errors and point me to the "right" drone releases from this year


Your taste sucks:P
but seriously, it not about having "right" drone records. I just happen to enjoy some other albums more than this, and given the lineup, it is diasappinting.
Anyways, here you go. A list of drone and dronish records that I prefer from this year:
schammasch-Alone In The Hollow Garden- Blown Out- Twinesuns-Temple Ov BBV-LINGUA IGNOTA, The Space Between You & The World-Omahara -Khost ( very far from pure doom tbh)-Yhdarl -Common Eider, King Eider
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Giving my ears a rest from music.
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21.06.2017 - 01:00
mz
Also: Ari Balouzian- Birtawil-Pharmakon (more like an experimental/ noise band)-Krzysztof Penderecki-loligore orgy & The Ringing Emptiness
Please note that some of these are not maybe exactly drone, but I assume you need a drone mindset to enjoy them.
I'm sure that there had been more good drone records this year. I have forgotten about some of them
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Giving my ears a rest from music.
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21.06.2017 - 01:15
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by mz on 21.06.2017 at 00:51

Alone In The Hollow Garden

Great project, it's become one of my favorites lately. I didn't even know there was a new album out so thanks for mentioning
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Written by RaduP on 14.01.2016 at 02:08

So you're not actually a bearded shaman opening his third eye through music?
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22.06.2017 - 18:27
mz
Also, there is a new pylar EP

PYLAR

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Giving my ears a rest from music.
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22.06.2017 - 18:38
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by mz on 22.06.2017 at 18:27

Also, there is a new pylar EP

PYLAR



Oh man thanks for the news, those guys are great
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Written by RaduP on 14.01.2016 at 02:08

So you're not actually a bearded shaman opening his third eye through music?
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