Funeral Doom Friday: Gravkväde Drops An Icy, New Demo Named Grav|köld
Finally, the weekend is upon us. What better way to kick it off than with the latest installment of "Funeral Doom Friday". For those who are new to this column; each week features a new or classic album from the realm of extreme doom. Much of funeral/death doom's might comes from an oppressive emotional weight and the use of death or black metal motifs (played at a trudging pace, of course.) Pioneers like Mournful Congregation, Evoken, and Esoteric have mastered this blend of dirge and destruction. For 25 years, they have methodically built compositions that stretch for dozens of minutes all while keeping fans enthralled. Time has elapsed since the days of Thergothon and much like the world around us, the genre has evolved. Today's modern bands contort the very construct of the genre, breeding darkly refreshing new work. Their work thankfully gives this column plenty of material to share.
Sweden's Gravkväde returned to the spotlight recently. The Uddevalla duo originally made an appearance in Funeral Doom Friday, April of last year with their very first demo named Grav|sorg. This year, they look to turn in a repeat performance of their DSBM-tinged funeral doom. Grav|köld certainly shows marked improvement between demos. The new three-song effort captures distraught chill similar to bands like Nortt or Ethereal Shroud.
Much of the demo uses frigid ambiance to draw the listener in. The opening intro track and the subsequent centerpiece, "Evigt Sjunkande Bortom," feature audible icy breezes and the crunch of footsteps in the powdery snow. Once the listener is immersed in this wintry land—fierce riffs and blast beats erupt. Ezra Nattkaos composes all of the instrumentation while Domedag works his howls. The central track—clocking in at 13 minutes—is the culmination of their vision for Gravkväde. These depressive, blackened sections populate the first quarter of the song. Yet, as the track creeps towards the midway point, the instrumentation becomes scarce.
Single drum hits crack like ice on a frozen lake. A deep growl emerges. Nearly everything goes silent for three minutes. Then as they did in the beginning, their fury reemerges. Bookending the ambient section with these outbursts of black metal is a wonderful decision. It shows the duo's ability to carry intriguing long-form songs as well—something a lot of younger bands can't do well early on.