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Gravetemple – Impassable Fears

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At tGravetemple - Impassable Fearshe intersection of Stephen O’Malley‘s mammoth-sized drones, Oren Ambarchi‘s avant electronica and Attila Csihar‘s throaty imprecations lies Gravetemple; a ponderous yet often surprising three-headed beast that wallows and grinds its way from the depths further downward, if that were possible, into the cthonic shallows that lie beyond human understanding or desire.

So far, so doom then, or so it might seem at first; but Gravetemple are well versed in the arts of noise and electronic disturbance, scattering smears of fractured, nasty FX liberally with low-end bass detonations that would sound right at home on the slowest of the slow dubstep album, except here they’re buried under a metric shedload of guitar and vocal heaviness the likes of which it’s not easy to escape.

Self-proclaimed in their ritual intent, when experienced live the trio are like a towering cliff-face of the Scandinavian fjords; but unlike so much metal (which this is often so very not, exactly), their interest in pre-existing mythological tropes seems far less important than in the determination to swallow up whole universes of sound and spit them out, transformed and made still heavier in Gravetemple’s own mighty image. While it can be relentless and punishing, Impassable Fears also revels in its dynamic range — so where “Elavúlt Földbolygó (World Out Of Date)” can pummel and browbeat the listener into a state of stupefied surrender, the Stygian, bone-rumbling chorale of “A Karma Karmai (Karmas Claws)” and the brightly resolved electronic chirrups of “Domino” can equally elevate the mood from the mire of noise for moments of contemplation.

So it’s left to the final “Az Örök Végtelen Üresség (Eternal Endless Void)” to really put a downer on matters; but in a satisfyingly complete and coherent way. It’s the sort of conclusion that pushes right against expectations — no thundering gallops through the circles of hell, no roiling crescendos of doom. Here instead there is a beatific elevation into the cloudscapes of an unknown elsewhere, a virtual heavenly choir shot through with jarring reverberations and a melancholy tocsin that calls out the last return, a long decay into existential quietude.

Impassable Fears demonstrates that Gravetemple can transcend immersion in noise for noise’s sake — rewardingly brutal as that can be, for sure — by feeling their way on a path that takes in both breathtaking full-spectrum sound abuse as well as more sublime contexts that their version of heavy (in the sense of dread) music can offer. Likewise, their embrace of electronics as much as guitars, of the pitiless opportunities that the effects offer for summoning all manner of emotional responses, for good or ill, serves them and their listeners well.

-Linus Tossio-

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