Label: Avantgarde Music
Release date: 13 January 2023
Format reviewed: High-quality Digital Recording
It’s been almost five years since “Väsen” saw the light, and what a long wait! But finally, FI-NA-LLY!!, Grá have released their 4th full-length album, now as a trio after the departure of Maugrim. Heljarmadr (vocals and guitars), Dimman (drums and percussion) and Vediger (bass) have unleashed their creativity to do a new album, “Lycaon”, which initial sound will take you by surprise.
Yes, the first noticeable thing is that this album sounds different. The production is more clean to my ears, surely the fact that this album is the first one that has not been mixed and mastered by Heljarmadr has something to do with it. And, the music… well, if you are familiar with Grá you can appreciate that something has changed, too. I’d dare to say that they have gone for a more “accessible” approach to their music. Maybe that’s not the exact word, but more or less.
Personally, I like when a band is not doing the “copy-paste” thing in all their albums. Creativity is always welcome, and this band has been evolving in a good way. Truth is that “White City Devil”, the opener track, sounds unconventional for the band. It’s catchy and very different from the previous music by Grá, with a more dynamic sound; the main riff is hard to get off from your head since the first listen, and the bass have big predominance in the mix (oh in fact, it’s like this all along the 8 tracks, and I loooove it!). An extra point for Vediger! The following “Flame of Hephaestus” is warming things a bit more, drums are playing faster in some passages and the tremolo guitar playing sounds familiar here. Yeah, it seems that this album is going in the good direction!
Heljarmadr vocals sound as wicked as always, this man is constantly spitting some kind of bitter venom with his harsh screams. And his guitar playing is flawless, I love when this instrument is in a “hypnotic mode on” like in “Lycaon”, the fourth track. I’m also enjoying a lot the twists and turns of drums in this song, where Dimman shows his vast repertoire at the percussion set. And right after this, a fast and furious cover of Bathory’s “Chariots of Fire” follows up and leaves you breathless, if you’re human.
“Brännmärkt” is the longest track, it has a dark and menacing atmosphere, I can’t understand the lyrics ‘cause this is one of the songs in Swedish, but that’s my feeling while listening to it. Starting with a slow tempo, and showing a lot of aggression through vocals, with sounds of war in the middle to make this track even more ominous… For me it’s great in terms of composition. And the album ends with “Jaws of the Underworld”, an instrumental track mostly focused on drums and percussion (Dimman is shining here), with some horns that bring a special touch to this closing theme.
Truth is that I miss a bit the cold and more ‘defleshed’ sound from their early works but “Lycaon” is a monster made of many faces, every time I listen to this album I’m finding out something new. For me it’s 9/10 Sílvia
9/10 Epic Storm
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