Monday, May 14, 2012

Graveland- Creed of Iron (2000)

Immortal Pride saw Graveland fully embrace its symphonic tenancies in a venerable ode to warriors of times past. Creed of Iron continues in the same vein, making only minor adjustments. Once again Rob creates an intense and visceral blend of sounds that places the listener right in the midst of the battle. The primary elements remain the same: deep, thumping, warlike drums, imperious synths and big, heavy riffs. 

However, there are a few notable changes. whereas the synths took the lead on Immortal Pride, the riffs are the stars of Creed of Iron. Tracks like “Tyrants of Cruelty” and “White Beasts of Woton” center around huge, crunchy riffs that stick in your head like any good battle anthem should. (This also makes Creed of Iron Graveland’s most headbangable album.) The synths still get their moments in the sun, mostly during the opening passages of the songs, where they do an excellent job of setting the tone. The solemn intro to “Ancient Blood” is especially praiseworthy.

There are several aspects of the musicianship that stand out. First, it does not sound like there is any bass guitar on this album. It seems like Rob has opted to let the low end of the synths—which create a deep oboe tone—fill in the low end. This makes an already big sound even bigger. Second, the percussion is the driving spirit behind the whole recording. The percussion is sharp and militant, giving an attacking, focused character to the music. As far as the compositions, the song lengths aren't quite as long as they were on Immortal Pride, but these are still fairly massive compositions. The songs travel through numerous ups and downs, all of which have a narrative sensibility to them conjuring vivid images of medieval battle.

While Creed of Iron lacks some of the originality that made Immortal Pride such a landmark album, it is in most definitely a worthy predecessor. This album is epic, dramatic and extremely catchy. Rob fills elaborate compositions with unforgettable riffs and melodies to create an album that will hook you on first listen, but that still sounds fresh every time you listen to it. 

A footnote of the different editions of this recording: if you’re in the market for buying a copy of this album, get the original edition. It’s heavier, sharper and more vivid. The remixed version just feels flat. The riffs lack a bit of the edge, the tempo has been turned down a notch and the percussion—which is such a highlight on the original—feels weak. Also, Rob’s vocals are not well integrated into the mix. It’s surprising that Rob managed to butcher his own album so severely. As for the Polish version versus the English version, I don’t think it really makes a difference. It’s the exact same album other than the language. Even though the language is different, the vocal delivery is basically the same. Whether Polish or English, just make sure you get the 2000 version and not the 2011 remix.

Overall: 9/10

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