Gloomy, relentless, sludgy -- like the Biblical leviathan surging up out of the darkest depths to herald the destruction of the world. Rhythmic, aggressive, invasive -- like a Panzer tank crushing debris beneath its treads. It's hard to imagine that these styles might stand side by side, but Adorned Graves' Out from the Depth of the Grave is a manifestation of these separate visions. The German metal outfit plays old school thrash metal with an overlaying veneer of doom metal. Out from the Depth of the Grave is the band's first full-length album, despite being together since the early '90s in some shape or form.
Adorned Graves released an EP entitled Hand of Death in 2015, and Out from the Depth of the Grave follows in its footsteps. The songs on the new album are generally longer, more cohesive, and moodier than the EP. Adorned Graves are masters at interspersing slow, doom-laden passages with vibrant, up-beat thrash assaults. If you crossed Black Sabbath with Metallica, or Trouble with Tourniquet, you might get an idea of what the band sounds like. With such variation, Out from the Depth of the Grave stays interesting even with 11 tracks clocking in at almost an hour of metal mayhem. Adorned Graves' vocalist and rhythmic guitarist Cailin Lef Graever, along with drummer and backup vocalist Deafon Graever, display numerous styles in the vocal department. There's mellow singing, death growls, gang vocals in the vein of The Crucified, and spoken passages. Guitarist Andreas Wormser shreds through wave after wave of grinding doom riffs, vitriolic thrash attacks, and atmospheric leads. All of these things combine to create an engaging, unique record that is a bold odyssey of song writing.
Out from the Depth of the Grave begins with the atmospheric introduction to the track "Out of the Deep." It's a cry to God from the midst of despair, much like Job's impassioned plea as he donned sackcloth and lamented the loss of everything that he once held dear. The harmonics and almost operatic singing is reminiscent of Saviour Machine's vocalist Eric Clayton. The song then begins to climb in dynamic range and scope, sounding similar to a Veni Domine track. The album's second track, "Opus One," is a fairly straightforward thrash number. The vocals are similar to Metallica's "Creeping Death" in some spots, and bring to mind Tourniquet in others.
"Primal Ocean" is one of the strongest efforts on Out from the Depth of the Grave. The song starts with spoken lines in Hebrew and then an atmospheric guitar riff kicks in, sending shivers down the spine. The pounding drums are relentless on this track, accompanying sludgy riffs that push it slowly into thrash metal range. Some bands have dueling guitars -- Adorned Graves has dueling styles, and the stylistic shift is well executed on "Primal Ocean." Track four on Out from the Depth of the Grave is a short thrash number. "Hydrophis Archaios" reminds the listener of Mortification's early thrash metal with its high octave vocals and furious riffing and drumming.
A brief spoken intro leads into the album's sixth track, "Psalm 88." "Psalm 88" takes a step back for a moment to immerse the listener in roiling waves of sonic destruction at half speed. It's easy to hear the Candlemass influence in the opening riff, which is thicker than honey and about as friendly as a cornered rattlesnake. The song, with its dynamic contrast and time changes, is a testament to Adorned Graves' skilled musicianship. "Invocation to Liwija" serves as an introduction to the next track, "Gorge of Liwija." "Gorge of Liwija" is an epic 9-minute song in the vein of Maiden's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," with seasoned doom and thrash riffs, interesting drum fills, and passionate vocals. There's a strong Lament for the Weary influence on this track, which makes sense, as Seventh Angel were one of the most successful bands at integrating doom and trash.
"S.alvation O.f the S.ea" is a fun number with crunchy guitar riffs and shouted vocals. The track would fit well as a B-side on Mortification's Post Momentary Affliction. "Adorned Graves" is the tenth track on Out of the Depth of the Sea. It's back to "doom and gloom" for a moment as the song has a 2-minute intro before the vocals come in. Mid-track, the band kicks it into full throttle, with aggressive guitar playing in the vein of Slayer.
Finally, the end of the journey has arrived. The weary traveler sinks down in the shade, shrugging the dust from his sandals. He dips his hands into a cool trough full of water, splashing it over his dirty face. Then he drinks deeply until he is sated, closes his eyes, and slumbers. The acoustic guitar and atmospheric vocals of "Source of Life" imparts such a mood on the listener. The soaring guitar riffs midway through the song surge with a life of their own. The melody is euphoric and invigorating, like a fine cocaine. It's something that I would expect Extol or Opeth to write, but its surprising nature doesn't detract from its brilliance.
Out from the Depth of the Grave is a thrash and doom metal masterpiece. It's difficult to point out any faults. Perhaps a few of the songs could be trimmed in length a bit, and more variation of melodic instrumentation could be used (keys, violins, etc.). Adorned Graves has achieved something that most bands set out to do, but never accomplish. The band has successfully merged multiple styles of music in an original way, all while giving tribute to the masters of yesteryear without regurgitating an album that's been done before. If you're looking for a fresh musical vision, and you like thrash or doom metal, then look no further than Adorned Graves' debut album Out from the Depth of the Grave.