At a cursory listen, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Mother of Graves' debut full-length Where the Shadows Adorn was some sort of relic lost in time. Between the fact that it was produced by the venerable Dan Swanö and has a sound that hearkens back to classic melodic death-doom of the early-mid 1990s, it would be easy to mistake this Indianapolis quintet's debut record as something that was recorded 30 years ago in that same time period. Upon further inspection however, Where The Shadows Adorn is more than just some pastiche, and while the influence of bands like Anathema, Katatonia, and Paradise Lost can certainly be felt, Mother of Graves have cultivated death-doom that honors its roots while still being unabashedly modern as well.

Stream it here early, and continue to read more about the album below.



Where The Shadows Adorn strikes an immaculate balance between subdued and straightforwardness. As a hybrid metal act, Mother of Graves' relationship with both visceral death metal passages and ethereal doom has been prioritized, and they've discovered a dichotomy that employs both sides of their sound as their peak. Tracks like "Tears Like Wine" contain some of the band’s most charnel riffs but it also preserves a pristine melodic core, and ends up being one of the most memorable songs on the record.

Of course, there are some numbers that sway harder in either direction. "Rain" is nearly an entirely melody-driven endeavor as Bret Sandman and Chris Morrison’s guitars harmonize in shimmery post-punk splendor. It is one of the tracks where you can hear that the band is not just some "Peaceville 3" retread, as the alt-rock influenced sound hints towards more post-millennium derived influence. Meanwhile, "The Emptiness of Eyes" does indulge in the antiquitous gothic splendor reminiscent of Mother of Graves' forebears, but it's rather apparent they don't imitate the classics more than display a healthy reverence for them.

On the heavier side of the spectrum, much of "Of Solitude and Stone" is a mid-paced death metal romp. The riffs twist and contort into vulgar shapes, and it’s moments like these where Dan Swanö's work behind the boards really stands out. Where Mother of Graves' more harmonious portions sound elegant, the more deathly passages have a certain grit to them. It lends the riffs not only that old-school feel, but the grimy coating only aids in their brutish, lurching contrast to the record’s more effervescent numbers.
It would be a crime not to mention vocalist Brandon Howe. Gutturals may be the expected medium of vocalization in death-doom, but even so, the power in Howe's feels beyond the norm. They are not just deep, indecipherable gurgles, but powerful and articulated bellows. Over the course of Where The Shadows Adorn, he bays about love lost and begs for forgiveness from a former companion. It’s typical fare, but the strength in his voice sells the mood.

Where the Shadows Adorn's success lies in the equilibrium the band achieves between maintaining melodic death-doom's core tenets while updating the sound to something a little more modern. Metal fans love nostalgia, but they don't love when it is packaged so blatantly it becomes too obvious. Mother of Graves is a band who delivers what the fans are looking for but does so in a way that feels fresh again.


Mother of Graves 2022
Photo credit: Kristie Vantlin


Brandon Howe (vocals, keyboard) told us the following about the album's title:

This record is a very personal one for me and brought to fruition a lot of harbored emotions. Whether it be sadness, anger, frustration, heartache, confusion, uncertainty. I haven’t been in the best headspace over recent years. I think anyone with any sort of moderate internal turmoil can relate in the solitary times prevalent anymore since the grip of Covid. Even after the world began to open back up, I still preferred and chased solitude. I didn’t mind the quiet, or the alone time, but it also made it easy to get trapped in your thoughts more often than usual. To really reflect on, explore and face the deepest pits of the self. There became a certain comfort and familiarity in the darkness of things, that “Where the Shadows Adorn” I suppose you could say was a place where I found my solace. It was what I knew. It knew me. It was my sanctuary. My outlet. My release. My way of channeling and setting free the things that would have buried me otherwise.

Where the Shadows Adorn releases October 14th via Wise Blood Records.

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