Graveland - Spears of Heaven

1. Spears of Heaven
2. Walls of the Red Temple
3. Flame of Doom
4. Braid of a Pride Valkyria
5. When Valkyries Come
6. Sun Wind
7. Return to the Northern Carpathian

Rob Darken (all)

Carpathian Wolves ('94)
The Celtic Winter (EP '94)
Thousand Swords ('95)
In The Glare Of Burning Churches ('96)
Following The Voice Of Blood ('97)
Immortal Pride ('98)
Impaler's Wolves (EP '99)
Creed of Iron ('00)
Raise Your Sword ! (EP '01)
Blood Of Heroes (EP '02)
Memory And Destiny ('02)
The Fire of Awakening ('03)
Dawn Of Iron Blades ('04)
Fire Chariot of Destruction ('05)
Wotan Mit Mir ('07)
Will Stronger Than Death ('07)


Rob Darken (Eng. & Mix)
Atlantean Choir & Ancient Valkyrian Choir (choirs)
Eelco Duppen & Rob Darken (Art)

Released: 9/4-2009
Reviewed: 6/2-2010

no colours

I've heard this guy sing before, in another group. "Baaaaah, baaaaah" is how he sounds... Hey, I just remembered where I heard him! I saw him perform at farmer McDonalds sheep farm, apparently they were called Ovis. They were five rams and a ewe, but no lambs. Graveland has come to an respectable age by now, the meat of the lambs is kept in farmer McDonalds fridge, butchered and sliced.

The art work of 'Spears of Heaven' looks pretty good, and the logo of Graveland is decent as well. And I almost start to like this album directly when I see that it only have seven songs - like the old vinyl albums. But unfortunately, the lenght is not what the number of songs suggest. The length of 54:40 makes my stomach turn and the opening track torture it even harder with an over eight minute long drum rattling and some bonehead bleating through it all. But after that crapy beginning, Graveland shows them selves from their best side, the second song shows great potential with keyboard melodies that sounds almost like choirs from angels, which fight through the almost eight minute long song.

Too bad, this is where it ends. The music is not strong enough and above all it's too dull to build and maintain any interest throughout the in average almost eight minutes long songs (the shortest one being 5:49 and longest a staggering 10:44, four of the seven songs clocks in between 7:24 and 8:20). It helps nothing that the album is slow, most of the songs also sound more or less identical and that the vocalist is sounds more like a sheep than a human. And it's not only the songs that are too long, with a close 55 minutes this album is at least 15 minutes too long and the way I see this it's only the keyboards that prevents this album from being a total failure.

In later parts of this album, the keyboard melodies gets more freedom and that's just about what keeps my faith up through this piece. And at the same time, I start to wonder - what sort of reaction can Graveland actually expect with this album from the really enthusiastic death- and black metal fans? Those who think it shall be as slow and simple and extreme as possible, they are probably the most likely to appreciate this album, except the keyboard melodies then, of course which are way to advanced for them. These people have a habit to be very conservative and Graveland differ from their template by not having a completely hideous sound quality and a totally monotonous sound (only way to monotonous to hold through the length of the songs and album). And then the keyboards on top of that. I think there is a big risk that Graveland could fall right between the cliffs of "true" extreme metallers and the melodic extreme metallers. When it comes around, Graveland are way too dark for the common In Flames or Children of Bodom fan and as I said, those conservative "true" guys will probably feel offended since Graveland don't wander around in the same swamp as Endstille and those guys where everything sounds exactly the same no matter which band, album, song or part of song that is played. Well, the risk of falling in between is obvious.

'Spears of Heaven' will probably not be a candidate for album of the year and Graveland will by most chance not get the title as band of the year. But in my opinion, it's not totally rubbish either. It's okay, even though I don't think I will play it on a daily basis from now on. And if I feel like listening to a harder album, there are better alternatives than this one, but compared to it's comrades mentioned above, this is a pretty decent catch. The problem is that it's too long and too monotonous. Graveland have a way too bad vocalist and both song writing and performance is sloppy and unfinished. Passages and transitions between parts of and inside songs are horribly bad, the drumming ruins the entire album by drowning the sound in a rattle of drums and the guitarirng is in serious need of schooling - today he's self taught, no doubt about it because it sounds boring and extremely dull. By now I haven't even mentoioned the bad production or the sloppy sound quality. But there are potential in this one man army, and it is actually listenable - though not with a great pleasure.

In my book, Graveland reach a doubtful pass, but a pass non the less. It lacks alot before it reaches an undoubtfully pass and too all you who's not in to dark extreme metal it's a definitive NO directly. There is no chance you'll like this. But as I've said a couple of times now, it's not total crap and the urge to turn it off doesn't get a easy win by default, like it's the case with for example I Shalt Becomes album 'The Pendle Which Trial' that was released about the same time and on the same label. This is, however, a sloppy, slovenly album that kicks the shit out of most albums in the same genre - that is a sad truth.


Label - No Colors Records
Three similar bands - Nifelheim/Dark Funeral/Lord Belial
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm