Gravetemple - Impassable Fears - Svart Records

Stephen O'Malley, Oren Ambarchi & Attila Csihar know as Gravetemple

Cover Artwork by Denis Forkas Kostromitin

Stephen O'Malley, Oren Ambarchi & Attila Csihar return to the bloody shore of doom metal with a crushing new Gravetemple LP “Impassable Fears” on Svart.

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Three arching overlords of underground metal, drone and noise, Stephen O'Malley, Oren Ambarchi and Attila Csihar mark a return to their revered Gravetemple project with Impassable Fears - an album that drills a very visceral, stomach-gutting darkside sound through thirty-five minutes of intensely powerful metal.

When they first crossed swords on Southern Lord a decade ago, Gravetemple instantly tore up any preconceived ideas we had on what such a mammoth collaboration would sound like. By using a shared love of metal as a starting point, their collective sound borrowed from each artist's individual strengths to create a strikingly novel voice within the metal scene from which the project was birthed. By combining Stephen O'Malley's crushing guitar notes, Oren Ambarchi's hypnotic, techno-leaning tendencies and Attila Csihar's lung-bleeding vocals they tore at rhythms almost to the absolute breaking point, yet at the last minute left them hanging together with a chaotic flow that saw resonating echoes of each artist's individual work fall through the mix like shattering raindrops made of concrete.

Despite primarily being a vehicle for live incarnations, when Gravetemple stepped into the studio to record Impassable Fears, something rather unique happened, allowing the creation of an album with a choking black metal sound quite unlike anything else from this corner of the underground. While they stunned all who were lucky enough to witness their live actions, on the discography front those looking to endure the experience of Gravetemple have been left stranded for eight years with nothing new to arrive in any physical form. Yet with Impassable Fears their triumphant return to the record will wreak havoc wherever it is allowed to roam, while also reminding us that Gravetemple is real and ten tonnes heavier than before - not some echo-laden tinnitus-like memory.

The trio return to the bloodied shores of their uniquely unsettling sound with seven movements that draw as much from skull splitting death metal as it does from hallucinatory dark ambient. Within the opening seconds of the first track 'A Szarka (The Magpie)', the feeling of being dragged deep underwater by a huge crushing wave of darkness hits you instantly, and the only thing to pull you through to the other side is a raw, feedback-drenched O'Malley style riff. This instant transportation allows Ambarchi's thunderous drums and Csihar's sickeningly dank vocals to direct a route forward, led by, being spat out of his bloodied throat. These elements combine to further push you deeper into the nightmarish current that runs strong throughout the record. The feeling of mounting pressure is further expelled on 'Elavult Foldbolygo (World Out of Date)' with the sort of gothic speaker shredding assault of early Napalm Death-style grindcore and the teeth clenching hardcore authority of O'Malley's rawest recordings.

Stephen O'Malley, Oren Ambarchi & Attila Csihar

Stephen O'Malley, Oren Ambarchi & Attila Csihar

Impassable Fears is a record that explores "spiritual, existential and metaphysical" concerns, and there are moments of lucidity on it that break the expected framework of the album experience. This is achieved by the inclusion of three strikingly unique passages of ethereal ambient experimentation. The first and shortest of these passages, 'A Karma karmai (Karmas claws)', is a really good example of an attempt to reach a shamanistic level of consciousness. At one minute and thirty-two seconds long it is the shortest gasp within the record, yet in many ways stands as its most powerful. The floating mixture of angelic wordless voices transpires with a faraway rumbling of a storm that brews on the horizon. It's near impossible to identify the core make-up of the piece - whether it’s a female voice or an endlessly layered instrument - yet while you may begin to wonder the piece slowly fades out.

Pulling influence from the certified fractured electronics of O'Malley and Ambarchi's sometime home imprint Editions Mego, 'Domino' offers a sort of Radiophonic haunting that at first may confuse some with its ever-evolving electronic heavy layers, yet in fact it supplies an often overlooked synth element that is present within each of the artists’ material outside the confines of Gravetemple. These electronic elements feed directly into the album's centrepiece, 'Athatolhatatlan Felelmek (Impassable Fears)', which offers a hypnotic catharsis which is suddenly broken apart by thunderous drums that build and build until your mind starts to slip and you fully lose yourself within the nine minute maze that forms its DNA. The direction to get through to the other side lays forever scratched across the inside of your skull.

The album concludes on a quiet note with the hollowed out howl of 'Az Orok Vegtelen Uresseg (Eternal Endless Void)'. Living up to the visual power of its title, washes of white noise open up a void the depth of which the longer you stare into, the harder it is to pull yourself back from its transcendent emptiness. Ripe with an abstract fear of the unknown, its tranquil dreamlike haze of minimalist melancholy continues to build until only a lone metal gong repeatedly strikes, a ghosted signal that spells out the records end.

In certain respects these and other elements place Gravetemple far ahead of any other doom band you could care to mention. It is certainly great to have them finally plug that gap.

Impassable Fears LP

01_A Szarka (The Magpie)
02_Elavult Foldbolygo (World Out of Date)
03_A Karma karmai (Karmas claws)
05_Athatolhatatlan Felelmek (Impassable Fears)
06_Az Orok Vegtelen Uresseg (Eternal Endless Void)

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