Right from the opening twin lead intro to ‘Mourning Light‘ I’m not sure I’m the right person for a fair review of Second Grave’s ‘Antithesis‘ 10”. I’ve listened to it several times over and sweated about how to punt it as a less than glowing review without just being a snidey prick, (apologies to Lee for the tardiness!).
Even though the band hail from Massachusetts, the opener is set firmly in NWOBHM territory and puts me straight away in mind of early Maiden. No bad thing I guess, just not necessarily my kind of thing. Which is a pity, ‘cos there’s plenty here to impress folks if that is your taste.
It’s the abundance of impressive tasteful elements that puts me off though. ‘Mourning Light‘ has the glossy intricate twin leads, the tight, palmed riffing, the strident powerful vocals, but it sounds like an also-ran from 1983. I can imagine Kerrang readers pondering why Second Grave wasn’t massive back in the day. It’s all a bit generic warriors and battle anthems. ‘Mourning Light‘ also outstays it’s (grudged) welcome by a good couple of minutes and ignores the aspect of brevity that was part of the coining term of NWOBHM in the first place. That said the fairly indulgent instrumental passage is probably the highlight of the track for me. Like, sez – not for me, but that’s down to personal taste, sure other folks will appreciate it.
The flip side is still firmly camped over in the trad-metal field, but I prefer this track to the first side. ‘Drink The Water‘ has a bit more gritty sludge in the mix – darker, more plodding. Some of the instrumental parts get properly distorted, some nice stoner fuzz going on in the extended breakdown and when Krista’s vocals come in after the menacing Black Sabbathesque air raid sirens, they are horrific (in a very, VERY, good way). Nasty, deathchanting proclamations which must have left the poor lassie’s throat in tatters. Nasty like good, old school, Black Metal. Then it all fades away like a receding tide of fuzzed up evil.
So, not so much to my tastes, apart from the latter half of the flip. Plenty going on for fans of traditional metal/NWOBHM kinda sounds. Second Grave have their sound honed to near perfection (too near perfection for my ears to be honest) and if a doomy Iron Maiden with balls- out female vocals is your thing, get on board! For me the doomier elements are their real strengths, but these come too late on the second track. I’d really like to hear more of the instrumental sludgey passages and when Krista resorts to her evil death-screech it’s a genuinely eerie sound I’d like to hear again.
Scribed by: Gordon Cameron