Graves at Sea - This Place is Poison
Eolian Empire
Sludge Stoner
2 songs ()
Release year: 2014
Reviewed by Alex

I was originally attracted to Portland’s Graves at Sea most recent EP This Place is Poison hoping to hear how they have re-interpreted Black Sabbath’s Orchid and Lord of This World off Master of Reality. (Sabbath and late Dio covers are the most fun to listen to I find). They did fine, truly innovative, job with the covers, but more on that later, since their new title track composition deserves coverage in its own right.

This Place is Poison came out after a long silence from the band, the last release being a split with Asunder, with what I understand now is a partially reworked lineup. Yet the band’s craving for the riff-oriented, sludgy doom remains. Guitarist Nick Phit probably deserves credit for that. The title track is a perfect impersonation of what I call “oceanic” doom. Thick, tubed, saturated sound, hypnotic and enthralling, is coming as if from under the weight of a water mass. The fans of Conan, Ahab and Giant Squid will find a lot of relevance on This Place is Poison. I had to fool around with the equalizer settings quite a bit in my new car audio system to extract the most from this treble devoid hissing sludge wave. At the same time, there is an incredible flow and hookiness in the riffs themselves, giving it a feeling of stoner rock. The only aspect I did not quite appreciate was the secondary vocal lines, the “little evil voice”, something close to Cradle of Filth of all things, which seemed out of place next to the more psychedelic almost clean cackle.

I am willing to bet that Orchid would not be recognized when the side B of Sabbath covers begins playing. What was a short transitional instrumental is now a 5 min long composition, largely acoustic, but on a slight accelerating slant, with distortion trying to creep in, but losing to the clean sounds nonetheless. Lord of This World begins closer to the original script and you can discern those legendary vocal melodic lines, first immortalized by Ozzy, but given a much rougher treatment by Graves at Sea. After treading close to the original at the beginning, Graves at Sea rework this cut as well, extending and improvising the instrumental sections significantly. The track then plunges to plumb the sludgy tarry depths, and closes out with a hypnotic head-bobbing motion drifting away to the sound of hooky riffs.

The revitalized band is embarking on a European tour with fellow sludgers Sourvein.

Killing Songs :
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