“Ice Grave”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Spinebreaker really, REALLY loves the raw chainsaw guitar sound of old Swedish death metal. They love it so much that it forms the entire backbone of their music. The guitar here is so fuzzed out and vibrating with power that you can almost see the strings melting with distortion.

Is it enough to make “Ice Grave” more than just another Swe-death also-ran? Hmmm, that’s a toughy. Rarely have I heard such a savage sounding release. And it’s from San Jose, California??? Yessir, that’s right. Spinebreaker sound like the most basic songs of Dismember, but stripped down even further and without the melody that made those elder gods so memorable. This is brutish, bulldozer stuff! But oh God, that guitar sound! It’s extra crispy and extra crunchy, like KFC chicken gone berserk. The drums, also, sound very caveman like. It’s all a little too basic for me, without the nuances that made the great Swedish bands so exceptional. That’s something fellow American deathsters Black Breath have got a handle on. But Spinebreaker almost make up for that with sheer crunchy noise. Just listen to “Fractured Existence” and tell me the last time you’ve heard such distortion. Maybe Xibalba?

The album hits a doomy stretch towards the end, as tunes such as “Withering In the Blizzard”, “Flesh Wound” and the rancid “Entrenched” become slower and more morbid. I kinda wonder if these guys are deathcore kids who decided to latch onto Stockholm death metal for a new sound. “Divine Mortal Being” almost gives you an idea of what deathcore breakdowns would sound like if they were performed by Grave.

There are lingering doubts about the effectiveness of Spinebreaker’s songwriting, but none about their sheer heaviness. If you worship that guitar sound I spoke of earlier, then by all means partake.