Holy Calamity!

Forget ABBA and forget all the garage bands; Sweden's greatest contribution to music remains the early-Nineties death-metal sound exemplified by Entombed, Unleashed, and Grave. The latter's first disc in six years, Back From the Grave, displays an impressive understanding that when you've got a good thing, you don't mess with it. It's one of the best death-metal releases of 2003.

This is primarily because the band has held onto the old-school "death and roll" feel of classic sides such as Entombed's Left Hand Path, Unleashed's Shadows in the Deep, and their own Into the Grave and Soulless. It's one down-tuned stomper after another, burrowing into your skull until there's no option but surrender. With minimal guitar soloing and intelligible lyrics (a rarity in death metal these days, but it didn't used to be that way), Back From the Grave is all about punishing the listener. The band is celebrating the release of the album with its first tour in half a decade, and it's bringing Immolation and Goatwhore along too. That's a fine night of death metal for anybody's dollar.

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Phil Freeman
Contact: Phil Freeman