Monday, May 28, 2012

Graveland- Memory and Destiny (2002)

In the early 90s Graveland were one of the darkest black metal bands on the planet. Albums like The Celtic Winter and Carpathian Wolves conjure the most evil and violent feelings. At the time, no one would have imagined there would be a Graveland album that could be described as “beautiful.” However, that is exactly what Memory and Destiny is; an absolutely gorgeous and majestic piece of symphonic metal. 

Memory and Destiny is Graveland’s 3rd full length in the symphonic metal style. While the prior two albums focus on the blood and glory of the battlefield, Memory and Destiny is themed around the seafaring, tales of the Lost City of Atlantes and other nautical mythology. The entire album has a fluid feel to it, as if the music were ascending from the heart of the sea. All the instruments have a somewhat muted tone, which softens the edge of everything, causing the instruments to bleed into each other. Yet, if you look closer, there is a wealth of keyboard tones in play. There are heavenly choirs, deep string instruments, bright horns and an authentic hurdy-gurdy sound. Once again, Rob opts to use a deep oboe tone for bass as opposed to an actual bass guitar, which adds a lot of girth to the music. Epic riffs provide a foundation around which the synths ebb and flow. The drums play big, thunderous pasterns that mimic the steady rhythm of waves.

The compositions are big, epic pieces that center on two or three ravishing melodies. While there are a few aggressive passages, by and large Memory and Destiny is focused on creating the most divine sounds fathomable. The quality of the melodies is of the highest caliber. The execution is perfect, with all the layers of synths and guitars creating a massive orchestral force. All five tracks are quite excellent, but “Legion of Giants” is a cut above the others. Deep riffs and sturdy drums create a steady foundation while female choirs chant ambrosial tones. The pace builds in such a way that it feels as if you’re being lifted out of the ocean and into the heavens. 

Memory and Destiny is an album that is often overlooked in the Graveland discography; however it is one of Rob’s most intelligent works. The compositions possess great depth and layering that gives the lustrous melodies borderline overwhelming power. The production can make the music seem a little nebulous at first.  A lot of the layers are hard to distinguish during the first few listens. However, Memory and Density is definitely a creeper. The more you listen to it, the more you gain from it. In time it shows itself to be one of the most pretty extreme metal albums you’ll ever find. 

Overall: 9.5/10

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