Resurrection is generally defined as an individual returning from death to life. Certain beliefs and medical resuscitations aside, this is predominantly a fictional concept that applies more realistically to abstracts and ideas than human beings or other critters found in this mortal realm.
Now, it doesn’t make much sense to call any genre of music “dead” per se. Music comes in many different forms which are appreciated by many different people across many different periods of time. However, it’s not a stretch to believe that certain musical approaches are currently becoming stale or repetitive – at least on the surface level. Sometimes, your ears have to really dig in order to find the good stuff.
Some of the modern -core genres have certainly fallen into this category. Approaches have grown more formulaic and one-dimensional. It seems there are many interchangeable acts racing towards a similar orbit. In order to survive, more musicians need to start thinking away from that center. Luckily, plenty of these musicians do exist… Sometimes, we just have to find them somewhere other than the latest Spotify playlist.
All that being said, there’s two reasons why we’re beginning this review with musings of resurrection and stagnancy. First, because we’re about to look at a band that is doing some relatively fresh things within the modern landscape of their chosen -core genre. Second, because that band’s name is quite literally Graveborn. That sounds an awful lot like a “resurrection” to me.
This is a metal unit coming straight to ears from the winding streets of Boston, Massachuttsetts. When it comes down to the sonics, they define themselves as a Deathcore band but there’s a lot more to their music than that. From the pack of dime a dozen, they’re attempting to be the full dollar itself. Creativity and healthy doses of genre-bending are the keys here. While listening, one can easily pick out neighboring elements of Progressive Metal, Death Metal, melodic composition, and all-encompassing waves of atmosphere.
Graveborn underwent their birth in 2012 and have stomped out a number of independent releases in the six following years. This began humbly with a single and a debut EP release then ramped up to the release of a full-length “Samsara” in 2014 and yet another LP “Seeds of Life” in 2016. However, we’re here to examine the next step…
Right now, they’re on the brink of releasing their third full-length album by the name of “The Athenaeum”… tomorrow! It’s expected to be available at several locations across the internet with pre-orders currently available on Bandcamp. Listeners may currently sample the first album single “The Shapeshifter” before the full payload lands tomorrow!
From the very opening chords of “The Astronomer”, it’s clear that the listener is in for something good. There’s a certain enchanting, yet foreboding feeling as the sounds elevate into existence… all before waves of metallic heaviness come crashing in to drench everything. It’s also worth noting that the opening chords of this album serve as a recurring motif, repeating halfway through the single we just mentioned – “The Shapeshifter”. Between qualities such as this and the very introduction to Graveborn’s brand of heaviness, “The Astronomer” serves a great representative of what listeners can expect on “The Athenaeum”… sans some twists! There are a number of quality, ear-pushing moments to be gleaned by listening through this record… go listen and find them!
“The Athenaeum” itself is a record consisting of 8 tracks spread across nearly a 40 minute run time. They all work hand in hand towards a common goal like pieces of a puzzle falling into place. Where one leaves off, the next diligently picks up by packing more weight onto the eardrums. The record flows well, exhibiting layers of consistency and well placed transitions to keep it all in check. Tracks #3-5 seem especially well connected, bleeding seamlessly into one another.
In a number of ways, this album is quite refreshing. This is Deathcore music driven outside the norm on the premise of songwriting as opposed to peddling the same old breakdowns along a tired formula. There’s creativity matched with an amalgamation of the sub-genre’s best elements and some entirely different sounds on this record.
That’s not to say it’s all a fresh breath of air. Certain elements of Graveborn’s sound can easily be drawn in comparison to contemporaries across the metal landscape. For example, certain leads may make the brain scream, “Fallujah!” and the like… How this is taken ultimately lands in the ear of the beholder. Some will naturally enjoy these similarities more than others.
The band’s delivery is typically spot on but parts of this album do feel a bit loose for one reason or another. This usually boils down to a simple matter of timing or a moment that should’ve received more polish. While keeping its stance as an all-around great album, it doesn’t feel as if it reached 100% of its potential in some ways.
However, for the most part, the production and delivery found on “The Athenaeum” is quite good. The instruments are all left with a certain breathing room and considerable clarity. There are also several nice touches and surprises to be found throughout the album’s duration. The atmospheric work is enjoyable and well placed. The inclusion of keys on several tracks and moments like the sledgehammer in “The Shapeshifter” also leave a nice ring in the ears (unlike tinnitus).
Every present member brings a stand out performance for one reason or another. Graveborn consists of 5 musicians working together like the points of a pentagram. Funny enough, they’ve personally broken the positions down as “angry yelling” by John LeBlanc, “dweedly-doos” and “dweedly-doosX2” by Chris Ramusiewicz and Jesse Blanchette respectively, Reggie Lewis bringing “DAT CLANK”, and Jon Ballard with the “trash can thumpin”.
In the end, when this music returns to the grave from which it was born, we have to etch some final words into this album’s tombstone. Graveborn is a band that’s not afraid to sidestep the standards and they show some considerable strides in doing so. The more I listen to this LP, the more I enjoy it and that’s always an admirable quality. For now, that enjoyment sits at a solid 8 out of 10. Well done.
All of that being said, I can easily recommend this album to a number of metal fans. That being the case, stay vigilant for the official release of this LP tomorrow! Also, keep it mind that “The Athenaeum” is currently available for pre-order on Bandcamp where you can also get a taste of what comes next!
The band also has more up their sleeves where this came from! If you’re interested in seeing what moves they make next, definitely give them a follow over on Facebook and witness their growth first hand!
Or you could witness them in person! The band has three upcoming dates you can scope out. First, is their CD release show at Carlo Rose Smoking Bar & Music Venue in Pelham, NH tomorrow! Second, is a house show / celebration on Saturday. If you want to go, shoot the band a message for the address. Finally, they’ll be playing the Begat The Nephilim release show on June 15th at Bungalow Bar & Grill in Manchester, New Hampshire. Plenty of good times coming up in the United States northeast!