Graveflower – Return To The Primary Source

Close your eyes and let yourself be lulled by the mournful notes of My Turn, a track that after an acoustic intro gives way to Aaron Stainthorpe’s poignant clean vocals… ; then open them again and go straight to the informative notes about the band and you will discover that the singer actually answers to the name of Vladimir Semenischev and that, like the musicians accompanying him, he does not come from the misty moors of the Albion but from farther away Ekaterinburg (Russia). This kind of introduction serves to make it clear how indebted Graveflower‘s record is to the sound that My Dying Bride helped create in the first half of the 1990s, and, on balance, all of this ends up constituting both its greatest merit and its main flaw. There is no doubt, in fact, that the Russian band succeeds in effectively and appropriately bringing back to life the sounds that marked such milestones of doom death as Turn Loose The Swans or The Angel And The Dark River but, on the other hand, the adherence to the original model at certain junctures is so faithful as to border on plagiarism. Therefore, it succeeds in providing an objective judgment and above all untethered from what has just been observed: those who, like yours truly, unconditionally love this genre of music, cannot avoid getting caught up in Vladimir and co.’s skill in composing slow-motion songs with a romantic and decadent mood, and repeated listening to this work conveys largely positive feelings. That said, and reiterated that doom, by its nature, does not lend itself to too many digressions or stylistic admixtures, it is undeniable that from Graveflower for the future one expects at least a more decisive deviation from the canons of expression that the Yorkshire band dictated two decades ago. In the end the verdict for the Russian band is one of absolution, albeit with all the reservations already stated, on the following grounds : 1) Return To The Primary Source, when stripped of any cumbersome terms of comparison, is a fine record, considering among other things that it is the debut step. 2) If My Dying Bride were to one day decide to return to the sounds and emotional intensity of their early days, I imagine it would be welcomed by most fans, so the fact that someone else somehow anticipated them doesn’t strike me as so regrettable.

2012 – Solitude Productions