Jan 272023

Mother of Graves

For the 20th Part of this still-escalating list ,variety is the name of the game, because I’ve chosen three songs that don’t have much in common. I guess you could say they’re all in sub-genres of death metal, but there the connection mostly ends.

Well, not quite. I’ll mention a few more connections: The first two bands both make their homes in Indianapolis; Todd Manning reviewed both of them for us; and all three albums arrived with eye-catching cover art.



I think most followers of death/doom had high expectations for this band’s debut album last year, but I think it’s fair to say that Where the Shadows Adorn exceeded those expectations. It earned a ton of praise and landed on many a year-end list. To quote from Todd’s review:

“While the Peaceville 3 (Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, and Anathema) might garner all the glory for inventing this particular genre of bleak death-doom, one shouldn’t shortchange Mother of Graves for damn near perfecting it. Where the Shadows Adorn takes grand gestures of doom brilliance and compresses them into perfectly sized pieces, with most songs hovering right around the five-minute mark.

“…While the influences behind Mother of Graves aren’t mysterious, nothing on Where the Shadows Adorn feels derivative. Quite the opposite really, these gentlemen have a real sense of identity this early in their career. This album feels like a statement of intent, and I feel we will be talking about this band for years to come”.

This is another album where picking just one song for the list was a difficult exercise. In the end, I chose the title song. Here’s what Todd said about it:

“The title track begins the album and lays out the blueprint for what follows. Piano and clean guitar paint a somber picture before the distortion kicks in. Mother of Graves revel in instrumental textures but thankfully never stray far from death metal. Even when the piano returns underneath the distorted guitar the material remains crushing. The song ends by finding the main riff again with more gorgeous guitar melodies riding over the top and particularly tasteful bass work beneath.”





As mentioned above, Todd Manning also reviewed Obscene‘s latest album From Dead Horizon… To Dead Horizon for us, comparing them to “a ruthless, well-oiled killing machine.” I thoroughly enjoyed the album, and decided to put the song “Deathless Demigod” on this list. Todd wrote this about it:

“If the opener is the mission statement, the second track, “Deathless Demigod” displays Obscene at the absolute height of their power. While once again avoiding the overly simplistic, they construct a killer metal song that provides all the twists and turns that death metal is known for while also being extremely catchy. The primary riff to this song will get stuck in your head for days.”

The snare attack in the song is a real skull-snapper and muscle-mover; and that primary riff, which alternately blares and rips, does get its hooks in the head fast; and the raw and ragged high-pitched vocals add to the song’s memorable impact (Todd cleverly but accurately wrote that Kyle Shaw “sounds like he’s simultaneously the aggressor and the victim”). On top of that, after a brief doomy trudge, the band kick the music into galloping gear to pave the way for a great extended guitar solo.





To conclude today’s segment we leap across the Atlantic and land in France, home to the formidable progressive, technical death metal band Exocrine. And this time it was DGR that showered their 2022 album with praise in an extensive review for us that included a detailed comparison of the new record (The Hybrid Suns) with the Exocrine albums that preceded it. He also devoted attention to how the experience of the album unfolded as you move from track to track, and what happens when you reach the third and fourth songs:

“[L]et’s be honest, at five albums in, you’re coming to Exocrine for the world-ender songs. The ones that are white-hot and destructive from beginning to end. The inhuman feats of strength that pass by quick enough to leave burned track marks in the ground. That’s what Exocrine have made their bread and butter and that is what The Hybrid Suns has plenty of, especially once you reach songs like “Horns” and early-album highlight “Watchtower”.

And with respect to “Watchtower” in particular, he wrote:

Watchtower” is the first song that really gives listeners whiplash though, because up to that point things have been surprisingly traditional for Exocrine. Each song has been an unrelenting bulldozer and while things start to change within “Horns”, “Watchtower” is the neck-snapper since it goes through so many movements so quickly by about the halfway point of the song. The segment resembling a brief chorus with the huge wave of double-bass pedal behind it is almost welcome given just how quickly “Watchtower” clips through everything. That’s the song that’ll catch people by surprise, if just for its opening being the most different thing on display by that point.

Watchtower” really is a stunner, a ruthless eye-popping bludgeoner but also ornamented with abundant fretwork machinations and off-the-hook drum fills that spin the listener’s head around. And speaking of head-spinning, there’s a channel-shifting guitar solo in the song that will make you drool, followed by an ecstatic dual-guitar spasm and a final bit of brutish clanging.

Everything happens so fast that there’s a temptation to just hold your breath while the song flies by, and an even greater temptation to run through it repeatedly. Which of course I’ve done, and that’s why it’s here.


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