Sunday, February 19, 2012

Graveland - In the Glare of Burning Churches (1993)

Graveland's fifth demo, In the Glare of Burning Churches, is one of the more grim and raw efforts from this Polish band. Released on cassette, in May 1993, it has been reissued on tape and CD, several times. Over the years, some extra songs have been added, though this is hardly a major selling point, as superior versions can be found on The Celtic Winter. Had it not been made available on CD, there would really be no reason to ever track this down and listen to it. It is not particularly impressive, though it is not bad for what it is.

I was much more into this 'album' when I first obtained it, as I was quite disappointed with everything else that I had heard by the band, other than The Celtic Winter and Carpathian Wolves. It was nice to be able to go back and hear more raw Black Metal with Graveland's trademark approach, actually being able to enjoy the band again by going back in time. I recall listening to it over and over, while studying in the bleak winter months. However, after that initial period, it has done little more than collect dust.

The material on this demo should sound familiar with anyone that has heard the aforementioned releases. A few of the same songs are present, though the atmosphere is a little different. This is due to the performance and production. This may be the band's most raw effort, next to The Celtic Winter. The main difference is that the sound is quite flat, particularly the drums. The lack of reverb makes for an entirely new listening experience. The rhythms are a little boring as well, though this is not a huge deal. Overall, the songs are lacking in conviction and passion, doing very little to create atmosphere outside of the various samples of flames and winds. The keyboards also attempt to make up for the weak riffs, but to little or no avail. Most of the songs are mid-paced and one-dimensional, failing to keep the listener's attention for very long. The musicianship is very sloppy and the songwriting is uninspired, for the most part. Though one might be tempted to write this off as a third-rate tribute to Norwegian Black Metal, Graveland's music actually possesses a character of its own. While many of the elements may sound familiar to fans of Darkthrone, Emperor and Burzum, the actual execution is done in such a manner as to not really sound like any of those bands.

In the Glare of Burning Churches is not essential, but offers a decent slab of raw Black Metal that should appeal to anyone that found themselves disappointed with everything after Carpathian Wolves. It may end up being little more than a novelty, but fans of early Graveland should give it a shot.