Earthen Grave: Earthen Grave

Ex-Trouble man encounters a few too many shades of doom

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Formed in 2008, this Chicago sextet are notable for the inclusion of former Trouble bassist Ron Holzner in their ranks, and of virtuoso violinist Rachel Barton Pine who, not having previously performed in a metal band, provides a fresh slant on the classical/metal interface.

Besides Ron’s presence, pretty much everything else about this debut album says ‘doom’, right down to the choice of cover versions – Pentagram’s Relentless and Witchfinder General’s Burning A Sinner. The rest of the music, however, is way more eclectic and unpredictable to the extent that classifying it is nigh impossible.

No doubt the band believe this to be a good thing, and overall it is, but there are moments when the black thread connecting one song to the next all but disappears. There are uptempo, almost thrashy moments, mid-paced stoner stomps, laidback balladeering and sudden seismic shifts between intimate and epic that don’t so much keep you guessing as on the back foot. There’s masses of talent here that’ll take just a bit more streamlining to find its true voice.