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Graven – The Filth Will Cleanse EP

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This is Graven’s debut EP, but Graven isn’t really a new band. Three of these four musicians played in the excellent Baltimore band Swarm of the Lotus. SoTL was a make-up/break-up case after eight years together, they split in 2006, reformed in 2009, and then re-split up in 2010. They managed to release two albums and an EP during their turbulent run. Their second, The Sirens of Silence, remains a favorite of mine.

Functionally, Swarm of the Lotus lives on through Graven. If you told me this was new material from Swarm of the Lotus, I’d believe you. The vocals are more screechy (perplexingly, as both SoTL vocalists remain), and the ratio of fast parts to slow parts is higher. Otherwise, though, Graven serves the same chunky, dissonant stew that its predecessor did—part Neurosis, part Pig Destroyer, and part Converge. The production is sticky and dank, like day-old syrup; the guitars gum up your ear canals.

Speaking of Converge: when will it be okay to call stuff like this ‘metalcore’ again? Soon, perhaps. Certain bands with visible metalcore roots, like Gaza and Trap Them, have crossed out of the ghetto and into the ‘serious’ metal world. Like them, Graven capitalizes on the appealing parts of the style (genre fusion, dynamic songwriting, lotsa groove) while ditching the icky, faddish ones (Gothenburg riffs, emo choruses, constant breakdowns, girl jeans). Graven even self-apply the MC-word via Bandcamp tag. Daring! Now that the Great Mid-Aughties Metalcore Plague is a distant memory, maybe we can stop dodging the term. Metal certainly doesn’t need any more boundaries.

— Doug Moore

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