GRÀB – ZEITLANG
BAVARIAN BLACK METAL FROM THE BLEAK MIDWINTER
This full length debut from Germany’s Gràb charges down the gates with a battery of harsh yet regal semi-retro black metal. The Bavarians have specialised in melodious, windswept thrashing with an impassioned cinematic scope. Combining warp speed clattering, freeze-burnt riffs with a sense of soaring triumphalism, the record is a soundtrack is a narrative of an old man who retreats to a hermetic mountain existence only to unravel existentially and die in spiritual desolation and regret. That is, admittedly, an abridged version of Zeitlang’s backstory but if that strikes you as a fairly straightforward concept, then the music is far more epic in scale. Turning on its head the Buddhist practice of seeking mountain solace as a holy place of spiritual reclamation, Gràb have instead used the Alpine vista of their native Bavaria to inspire a savagely panoramic black metal offering.
What might strike you first is how melodic this is and don’t be surprised to find yourself nodding along grimly to the likes of the driving opener Nachtkrapp or the epic 11 minute possessed march of Zeitlang. Gràb deploy sweeping, maudlin harmonies for that big emotive impact but it is propelled by waves of machine gun blast beats and tempestuous, draconian sub-zero riffing. Stylistically, an obvious reference would be elements of arctic savage melodrama of Norwegian black metal that keeps going through various re-births. Gràb’s sound creates an expansive spindrift of thrashing where the high-altitude atmospherics a times edge into transportive black-gaze.
Essentially, though, this is a simmering blackened thrash record as the likes of Weizvada with its heads down bullet train delivery or the rampant standout track Nordwand both attest. There is plenty here to a fix of high-octane, teeth-gnashing savagery.
Gràb have created a record that, in some ways, is quite traditional with its nods to previous BM waves. Stylistically, it is in-keeping with genre expectations. It is, however, a good quality and consistent record with a singularly focussed and well-crafted atmosphere that compliments the subject matter. The aching, moody harmonies are well written and impactful but are offset with genuinely furious headbanging – and at the end of the day that is what you really want. With the winter nights drawing in Gràb have dropped a debut to add a bit more blackness and chill.