Sweden's Grand Cadaver is a new band, but their lineup has an impressive extreme metal pedigree whose experience in the genre is incredible vast. This includes Dark Tranquillity vocalist Mikael Stanne, ex-Katatonia drummer Daniel Liljekvist, and current and former members of Novarupta, Tiamat, and Pagandom. And after an EP in February, Grand Cadaver has quickly returned with Into the Maw of Death, their full-length debut.
Swedish style death metal is at the core of their sound, but Grand Cadaver don't limit themselves only to that style. "Grim Eternal" has a deliberate pace and doom influences, and it's immediately followed by "Reign Through Fire," which starts with a fast, thrashy section before easing back into a mid-tempo groove. While the music on the album isn't necessarily innovative, it is varied enough to maintain interest throughout its ten tracks. Grand Cadaver pay homage to classic Swedish bands like Entombed and Dismember, using that trademark old school buzzsaw sound.
They also do a nice job of showcasing the entire band. While guitars are front and center as you'd expect, bassist Christian Jansson gets the proceedings started on "World Mausoleum," and he steps to the forefront periodically on other songs. Liljekvist is the album's anchor, sometimes moving things along with a subtle touch, other times in full bludgeoning mode.
In the short time between the EP and this full-length, Grand Cadaver's sound has evolved slightly. The full-length, while plenty extreme and heavy, isn't quite as raw as Madness Comes. The production is crisp and packs a wallop.
Most of Into the Maw of Death's songs are streamlined and focused, in the three to four minute range. A couple are more expansive, especially the title track, which has an extended instrumental intro before the brutality kicks in. The record's widest ranging song is "Manifest Insanity," which shifts back and forth from mid-tempo grooves to galloping thrash to mellow interludes, and does so without sounding jarring or incongruous.
Stanne is adept at both harsh vocals and clean singing, but on this album, he utilizes exclusively death metal style vocals. That could be monotonous, but Stanne has been doing this for a while, and frequently changes up pitches and intensities to keep things compelling.
A couple of lesser quality songs slightly dilute the proceedings, but not enough to withhold a recommendation for fans of old school Swedish death metal. And kudos to them for using the underrated word "maw" in the album title, which refers to a cavernous opening that resembles the open jaws of an animal.