Bergraven – Dödsvisioner

4 out of 5

Label: Hydra Head

Producer: Bergraven?  (It’s in German, ya’ll)

So apparently Bergraven is doom metal, or something akin to that, but beyond any assumptions you might make due to the band being German, you might not equate the band with the genre, like, at all.  Yes, it has bleak, dual-paletted album art, but it’s not overly violent or a picture of desolate wastelands – it’s a rather artsy pic done up in variations of deep, gorgeous greens, of a body lying at the end of a hallway and a curious onlooker poking his head out from a doorway to see what’s what.  Maybe there’s some INTENSE, WRITHING subtext to it that I don’t get, but this could’ve been, like, an Interpol cover or something.  So musically – you have your growling, you have your lumbering pace, you have you double bass drums – but, and perhaps it’s ’cause I can’t understand what he’s singing about, those growls are pitched at a good level of intensity to function, appropriately, as another layer of the songs, and not just discordant guttural stuff, and the recording style isn’t clean, exactly, it’s very low end and deep and raw, but it keeps this stuff far from the muck, making that slow pace less of a sludge effect and more just a purposeful forward march.  And the double bass drum?  Just icing.  It’s not non-stop, it kicks in at just the right moments (about when the guitars drop heavy bombs) to pick the pace up and highlight the cool somewhat thematic guitar line that hovers over several tracks.

So despite these indicators, what you actually seem to have is a pretty straight forward heavy-rock album – and a very good one at that.  It’s a nice change of pace from a lot of the niche stuff on HH Records, or the more ‘technical’ metal, but it’s also uniquely gloomy enough to stand out from a lot of similar artists.  The space given to all of the tracks is also a huge plus, as the slow climb to when you’re shocked off your seat by LOUD, solid guitars packs a great punch every time.

If you can get past the expectations associated with the apparent genre of Bergraven, you’ll discover an album of sounds and songs that aren’t new, per se, but are delivered in a fun context to make them feel fresh, and pumped through the speakers by some solid performers.  I hesitate to translate the lyrics in case they’re super dumb.  Woot.

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