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The Unquiet Grave : Cosmic Dawn (EP)

Classic doominess originally inspired by Bedemon marks The Unquiet Grave's first EP.

The Unquiet Grave is a solo project from Micael Zetterberg (probably most-recognisably around these parts, drummer with Swedish Death/Doomsters Wardenclyffe, but also a participant in several other bands dating back to the late '90s), originally inspired to take life back in 2005 on hearing Bedemon's 'Serpent Venom', but only now releasing this debut EP.

Obviously, it's a well-known fact that solo albums by drummers are always rubbish. History is littered with the embarrassing carcasses of self-indulgent tosh from people who should have known better, such as Herman Rarebell or Cozy Powell, and people who didn't know any better, like Peter Criss and Phil Collins. Fortunately for all concerned, Micael Z is also a credited bassist and guitarist, and the latter is the primary driver of the music, so there is still hope for 'Cosmic Dawn'!

Underground label Caligari Records certainly thought so, having released the limited tape version, which arrives with almost all the necessary information (the separate short Intro and Outro instrumentals aren't listed) plus lyrics printed on a decent-quality card inner. If you're not a fan of analogue media, it's also available for download, but in all honesty cassette reproduction quality is an appropriately authentic sound for something firmly rooted in the sounds and vibes of '70s Proto-Doom. Makes it sound just like metal did when I was a youngster...

And that, in many respects, is exactly what this EP does sound like. Somewhere on the curve where nascent Heavy Metal started burgeoning from bluesy, slightly folky, Hard Rock beginnings and everything got a little bit dirtier, louder and more dramatic. You could stand this up alongside the early axe-heavy riff-worship of the likes of Grand Funk (Railroad) or Andromeda just as easily as against more contemporary acts such as Wolf Counsel or Lucifer's Fall. Or, indeed - aside from the terrible production of their early material, thankfully very much absent here - against Bedemon and Pentagram, who have actually straddled both sides of that '70s-to-now divide. Those latter two's influence is clearly felt in the way The Unquiet Grave stomps steadily along, delivering slabs of timeless doomy riffage punctuated by the sort of guitar excursions that you'd expect from an ancient sunburst Fender Strat howling through valve-driven amps.

There's also a touch of Bedemon's sometime Psych-Rock oddness to the exclusively clean and slightly-accented vocals, that can pitch in anywhere between a full-throated rock bellow and a trippy ritualistic semi-chant (as on 'Whispers In The Dark'), depending on where you are in the EP. They sit pretty well with the guitar-centric tunes, backed by - unsurprisingly - very competent layers of drums and bass, putting body and ornamentation into place. The pace is too deliberate much of the time for that to add up to a full-on air guitar and headbanging session: instead, 'Cosmic Dawn' has quite a contemplative feel, aided by the narrative nature of the lyrics, that's more about sitting and listening, and perhaps quietly nodding along as you might with some of Paul Chain's offerings.

Unfussy, well put together, and so steeped in tradition as to be near-impossible to pinpoint its decade of origin, 'Cosmic Dawn' basically nails its intended target with deft precision and a disciplined maturity - both of which are essential elements in putting together something that relies upon its no-nonsense elegant simplicity to succeed. Job done, you could say. Play loud, and pay attention...

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Cosmic Dawn
2. Mother's Trial
3. Whispers In The Dark

Duration : Approx. 22 minutes

Visit the The Unquiet Grave bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-10-03 by Mike Liassides
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