Impassable Fears by Gravetemple

Release date: June 2, 2017
Label: Svart Records

Musicians look for different outlets, hence there’s the thing called a side-project. Gravetemple is not exactly that, it’s not musicians looking for their own little expression or a group that wants to jam together. It’s a group that creates art and pushes boundaries, which is what Impassable Fears is offering.

Gravetemple is Stephen O’Malley (Sun O)))),Oren Ambarchi and Attila Csihar (Mayhem), a collection of musical explorers and mavericks. A group of musicians that always push the envelope. The group got started back in 2006 and performed a series of live shows in Israel. In 2008 they also did a short tour. Following their album The Holy Down back in 2007 there were some demos, but after that it all became quiet around Gravetemple, though there have been occasional performances like Roadburn 2013.

So here we are again with a record that is a cathartic passage through the sonic hells that the trio produces. Since the words are by Attila Csihar, the titles are in Hungarian (though most places should have the English titles too). You can even find the album around with the title ‘Áthatolhatatlan Félelmek’. Putting a genre on this record is nigh impossible. Though the presence of Csihar guarantees a certain black metal aura, the drums are wildly tribal and the sounds are typical O’Malley-esque drones. It’s hard to find the structures in the songs, so as a listener it is better to just let yourself be dragged along into the madness.

Opening track ‘The Magpie’ starts in a haze of foggy distortion with drums resounding. Oren Ambarchi is pummeling those skins with fierce passion in rhythms that don’t make for some casual nodding along. That uncertainty keeps you on your toes and the droning sounds really give you something to lean against when the next battering starts. On ‘World Out of Date’, those drones take on a metallic sound. A clear ringing that sound throughout the song as a life line, while Csihar barks and howls with fury over the maddening rhythms. If you are fighting the sound, by this point you’ll give up. Gravetemple requires you to submit, or they keep hitting you with uncontrolled chaos.

If you did surrender, then something completely different awaits you on the following tracks, eerie ambient, strange futuristic sounds and eerie ambient. It’s like you’ve passed through the storm and entered an abandoned Mars Colony. The respite is brief though, we return to the dense sound again on the title track, with the shrieking and murmuring of Csihar and the fiendish drums. There’s something perversely religious to the sound of Gravetemple, as if the musicians revel in worship of some chaos deity they invoke with their craftsmanship. The many layers of sound offer a fascinating musical experience. It’s almost mystically deranged and trance inducing for the listener.

Is Impassable Fears an easy listen? No it isn’t and it couldn’t be, now could it? Gravetemple offers a cathartic rite of passage, a transcendental experience created by three fantastic musicians. This is an album for adventurers.

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