There’s a time for everything.
The time for Mother Of Graves is now, in a few senses. In the broadest one, the time is now because it feels like this young band is rapidly gaining momentum, even as it feels that they were born whole and great. All the buzz I’d read about both 2021’s In Somber Dreams EP (including our own) was incredibly positive, and rightfully so. And the advance words I’ve heard on this, Mother Of Graves’ first full-length, are even more positive and even more correct in that opinion. The overall sound of this Indianan quintet is not a new one – it’s heavily indebted to Katatonia and the Peaceville Three, alongside all the bands born of that – but their interpretation of it is so skilled and so strong that it’s undeniable, forged in the blue flames of sadness and ready for death/doom greatness.
From the piano-led opening of the title track – redolent of Paradise Lost’s perfect Draconian Times, which is an all-time favorite, a comparison only strengthened by the full band’s dramatic entry with a driving Greg Mackintosh-styled riff – Where The Shadows Adorn is perfect example of the beauty of the death / doom hybrid, simultaneously downtrodden and uplifting, morose and majestic. The guitar team of Chris Morrison and Ben Sandman weave wonderfully sadsack melodies around despondent chords and heavily reverbed chiming cleans, while Corey Clark and Don Curtis keep the entire thing moving with a spark that belies the inherent sadness of the whole. Slower tempos can very easily turn leaden – and sad songs can very easily turn maudlin – and it’s credit to both the rhythm section and harmonic arrangements atop them that Where The Shadows Adorn not only never succumbs to weepiness, but in fact, transcends and feels invigorating and strangely energetic.
Add to that Brandon Howe’s more-than-formidable (morbidable?) growls and their ability to inject further fire and catchy hooks into these tracks, and Where The Shadows Adorn is damned near unstoppable. Witness the likes of “Tears Like Wine,” where guitar melodies and growls dance around one another in somber lockstep, the emotive beauty of a grandiose melancholy, dramatic and cathartic and sublime. Or witness the stellar “Of Solitude And Stone,” with its acoustic intro (and another full-band crashing introduction, equally as effective as before), a swinging melodic doom body, and brief deviations into arpeggiated cleans and haunting strings and a chugging lightly dissonant riff, all of it constantly evolving and building the emotional base of the track higher and higher into that epic despondence that the best death / doom can evoke.
If the preponderance of superlatives above didn’t hammer it home, I’m quite enamored of this album, as anyone should be who appreciates the power of the Peaceville Three, or Katatonia, or Amorphis, Hooded Menace, or Daylight Dies. Where Shadows Adorn may be Mother Of Graves’ first full album, but like the shorter In Somber Dreams before it, it’s a brilliant start, a new take on an old sound, masterfully crafted and impeccably performed.
If sadness makes you happy, here’s your next great death/doom band, so get your frown on. There’s no better time than now.