Thursday 13 June 2019

Grave Siesta - Voidward Spin (2019)

Country: Finland
Style: Doom Metal
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 21 Apr 2019
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Here's a very different doom album. It's the third full length release from Finland's Grave Siesta, who have been around since 2010, emerging from the ashes of a death 'n' roll band called Rite. I haven't heard Grave Siesta or Piss & Vinegar, but it's been relatively widely acknowledged that the sound of the band has changed over time, moving from doom to sludge.

It's certainly a very varied album. There are points where they're too fast to feel much like doom, such as the first few minutes of Vacant Throne, but there are other points where they're rather reminiscent of old Black Sabbath ballads, like the first couple of minutes of Weakness. Other tracks cover a lot of ground in between those two extremes.

There's also a raw and punky vibe here, mostly because of the occasionally tortured vocals of Taito Halonen. He's the biggest departure from the doom sound, often drifting into death territory, occasionally into black and so ending up reminding of early extreme albums before they really became their own subgenres. There's often an early Celtic Frost sound here, which I like because it's visceral and alive and uncommercial.

I liked the album, not least because this band is clearly good at what they do and what they do is their own thing. However, I wonder if Voidward Spin holds together as an album because it changes direction a heck of a lot and that doesn't help coherence. Those who expect their bands to have one sound will be disappointed here. I like albums like Saigon Kick's Water and Sheer Heart Attack by Queen that go in every different direction but somehow hold together as musical statements. This one I'm not convinced about yet.

If you're OK with vocals like Halonen's on a doom album, there's a lot here to enjoy. Vacant Throne starts fast but ends heavy, with some dark chanting in between. Intolerance is more routine but the vocals either elevate it or destroy it, depending on your preference. He shrieks and howls on this one like he's transforming into a werewolf, only to pluck a doom melody out of the air to torture with rough style.

Weakness starts soft and patient with fluid guitarwork from Sami Lintunen. Halonen goes clean here, sounding more like Nick Cave than Blaine from the Accüsed all of a sudden. When it kicks into gear, it's still Sabbath-esque except for those shrieky vocals. Bastardized finds a neat riff and Halonen tries for regular vocals; these two songs are the closest to classic doom that the band get on this album.

They're still a little fast, which is more overt on songs like Seizures in a Castle and Depopulation Prayer. At half speed, the intro to the former would be akin to Candlemass but, at this tempo, it reminds of a more raucous Saint Vitus with a hint of the Plasmatics. One riff is reminiscent of The Day of the Humans is Gone, which was only ever doom in lyrical content.

And that leaves Post World Peace, which almost feels like the epic of the album, even though it's under six minutes long and Weakness was longer. It takes its time and is surely the slowest song on offer, but it's never the work of tradition. Halonen gargles with acid before delivering a heartfelt vocal and Lintunen's guitar actually tries to match his torture this time.

I wonder about the make up of the Grave Siesta audience. They feel like one of those bands who can be seen as cool by both metal and punk audiences but they're still not remotely commercial. Some will see that as a good thing and they may get a kick out of this, especially the first three tracks and the last, but it takes an adventurous spirit to appreciate this fully.

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