Artist: Open Grave
Album Title: The Heavens Cry Black Tears
Label: Regimental Records
This is a CD re-release of the first demo from Open Grave, an American band playing fast, raw black metal.
Two guitars, one tuned high and the other low, sound over sinister bass lines and a drum computer. The drumming is a bit distracting, as computer drums tend to be, but this doesn't detract too much from the music. All this doesn't sound that original... but just as you start to think so, you hit the vocals. They're all over the map, from snarls to screams to clean howls, and all of it is completely insane. They bring to mind the vocals on Bethlehem's "Dictius te Necare", and anyone who has heard that one ought to know what high praise that is.
In terms of songwriting, these guys are pretty solid. The basic idea here is repetitive riffing, a la early Burzum, but each song has more than its share of distinctive riffs, and the band never falls into the featureless drone that's the hallmark of so many modern black metal bands. The vocals are used as a fifth instrument, one which occasionally comes close to taking the place of the guitar as the engine that drives the song forward.
There's one major drawback to this release - two, if you count the machine drumming - and that's the length. This CD is six tracks, but only plays for sixteen minutes, which is short even for a demo. Given, they're an enjoyable sixteen minutes, and the price is more than fair, but there's no escaping the short play length on this one.
If you enjoyed the original demo, this is a must-buy: the sound quality is crystal-clear compared to the tape, and the layout is brilliant. If you haven't heard it, but you're looking to explore some USBM demos, "The Heavens Cry Black Tears" is a good one to include. Recommended, as long as you can accept the short playing time.
Standout Tracks: "Satan and Blasphemy", "Brutal Assault and Sacrifice of Children"