Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Graveland - Carpathian Wolves (1994)

Carpathian Wolves is the first full-length album from Graveland, though The Celtic Winter contains just about as much actual music and possesses a higher sound quality. Released in December 1994, this record seems to represent a step backward and bears a number of weaknesses.

Musically, this effort leaves a lot to be desired. The riffs are, often, ineffective and forgettable. The drumming is very sloppy and continues to include very non-Metal patterns that kill the atmosphere, at times. The vocals are decent, neither exceptionally good nor bad. There is an over-reliance on synth to carry the atmosphere of the album and that is one of the worst elements of Carpathian Wolves. Some of the passages are interesting and add to the horror vibe that is often present, but then the band gets carried away and fails to stop while they are ahead. The intro and outro are too long, as well. There are a number of good guitar melodies on this album, but they suffer from poor execution and the overall rotten production. That is the most frustrating thing about this release; every song bears some positive qualities and one can see a decent amount of potential, but the sloppy drumming and bad sound just prevent this from being what it could have been. Despite all of this, the morose open-arpeggio chords of "Witches Holocaust" and the cold tremolo melodies of "Unpunished Herd" manage to stand a little bit above the rest.

This entire endeavour was neutered, right from the start, due to the horrid production. The guitars are incredibly weak and pushed to the background, which serves as a death sentence. If it is not bad enough that the synth overpowers everything else, even the drumming is much higher in the mix than the guitars. This should never have been released, in this form. The guitars are always supposed to be the focal point. Had the mix been corrected, Carpathian Wolves would have been a much better album. Even the boring and uninspiring riffs could be overlooked, as there really is enough good material to make this a worthy effort.

Graveland's debut L.P. is rather disappointing, but not without any positive qualities. This was but the misstep down a path that would take the band very far from the promise that they displayed on The Celtic Winter. For less picky listeners, Carpathian Wolves is still worth checking out, but be warned that it is inferior to its predecessor in all ways.