Grave Lines – Communion (New Heavy Sounds)
Britain is swimming in sludge and mired in doom.
And we’re not just talking about politics.
For more than a decade, the UK’s Iommian cultists have been multiplying… and spreading their sermons across the metal scene.
Across the land, the blessed tritone seeps from thousands of practice rooms.
Bands that were once confined to the pages of Terrorizer and Lee Dorrian’s vinyl shelf are featured in the broadsheets.
But there’s been a sense of over-saturation in recent years, with some acts barely deviating from the Electric Wizard template, or grilling their riffs in a little too much NOLA sauce.
Grave Lines, however, offer a very different shade of darkness.
Emerging with Welcome To Nothing, in 2016, the Londoners dragged the sound of human misery to new depths.
They sounded like they were bleeding while playing Extinction Pill or Cronus Chain.
It felt raw, draining and crucially, original.
The aptly named Fed Into The Nihilist Engine was even more terrifying.
And Communion ensures that Grave Lines will keep slithering forward…
A rusting bridge between the sonic intensity of Neurosis and the Peaceville Three’s unending gloom, Communion is an enthralling – if at times, uncomfortable – record.
Jake Harding’s tortured, Goth-coloured vocals and Oliver Irongiant’s corrosive (though immensely catchy) riffery remain as potent as they were in ’16, but Grave Lines’ music now feels all-enveloping, and shrouds the listener in filth.
Gordian lulls you into a false sense of security with a direct, punishing groove, before devolving into an oppressive lurch that would make Eyehategod proud.
Argyraphaga’s descent into the gutter is even more startling.
Move to the spoken word track Tachinid and you’ll find echoes of Kubrick’s claustrophobia, while Sinensis mines Killing Joke’s proto-industrialism and post-punk pulse, and reaches a stunning climax.
Carcini, however, is the standout piece.
In many ways, it’s the most ‘doom’ orientated song on Communion, yet the dynamics are jaw-dropping. And Harding, wrapping his voice around Irongiant’s cyclopean fretwork, shows just how talented he is.
A visceral record that cuts deep into the soul, Communion won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
It is doom for a doomed age.
Band photo by Abi Coulson, Dark Tones Photography.