Once upon a time there was a band. They were named Swarm Of The Lotus and they were very good indeed. Unfortunately they never quite caught on in any meaningful way and, after a pair of very fine albums and one solitary seven inch, in 2006 they simply stopped existing.
I was one of the few people, it seemed, that was genuinely bothered about this, feeling that they never quite got their rightful due and were often unfairly lumped in with the metalcore scene and the rest of the Isis also-rans.
Sure there were aspects to their sound that could be likened to Isis and some of the tropes of metalcore, but Swarm Of The Lotus had an infinitely more aggressive, taut and punchy, feel to their music, almost akin to someone of the ilk of Pig Destroyer filtering through the post-metal structures and semi-progressive leanings.
They remembered what Isis had long appeared to have forgotten, that sometimes subtlety is fucking boring and that a hammer can do the job just as well. Those blast-furnace walls of guitar and ire-filled vocals really pushed my buttons when welded to the juddering rhythms and churning dynamics the band utilised.
Thinking the band dead and buried I was surprised to hear they had reformed in late 2009 but, alas, my excitement was soon quashed when it was announced that it was all over already by early 2010. Imagine my surprise, then, to hear of this band, Graven, which featured three quarters of Swarm Of The Lotus – guitarist Bob Brockmeyer, bassist/vocalist Chris Csar, now moved to drums, and guitarist/vocalist Pete Maturi, along with new vocalist Jason Borowy – and playing music of a similar vein but with the aggression amped much further up. You could say I was interested to hear it…..
Jesus wept, Graven are FIERCE. The blast-furnace guitars now burn hotter than the face of the sun, stripping flesh in seconds, and the churning spiky undertow is positively bristling with malevolence, but the biggest change is that wrought by a change in vocalist. Whilst Maturi and Csar had been aggressive enough vocalists previously, Borowy’s voice is a shrieking, inhuman yap, almost approaching discomfort at points.
Remember that higher-register scream that Kevin Sharp used to bust out on early Brutal Truth numbers like ‘Walking Corpse’? Well this is harsher still. Unbelievable but true. Borowy must end Graven sets spitting blood.
The band smash through five tracks of absolute lunacy at what is probably literally breakneck pace and there really is very little in the way of let-up.‘The Void’, ‘The Stygian Order’ and ‘Imperialist’ fly past like a somehow more controlled yet more brutal Pig Destroyer, riffs shattering apart and re-assembling themselves on the fly and Maturi’s low-end growl bolstering Borowy’s ear-shredding scream, and it isn’t really until we get to ‘Utopian Womb’ that anything approaching a chink of light shines through the crazily layered armour-plating wrapped tightly around Graven. The band really give dynamics a damn good kicking in this one, making like a paranoid schizophrenic take on Meshuggah at their most headfucking, moving the rhythm around and smashing everything into jagged fragments. It HURTS.
Closer ‘Sacrifice Of The Common Man’ brings both crust punk and heavier-than-thou doom into the bristling equation and seals the deal on exactly how unforgivingly brutal this band can be. The final section of the track can only be likened to being pushed through a series of mirrors by an out of control bull.
How’s THAT for kaleidoscopic brutality?
Label: Self Released
Scribed by: Paul Robertson