Wednesday, July 3, 2019

THE GRAVE DENIAL "The Grave Denial EP"

(c) 2019 Independent Release

  1. Fake
  2. Breath Of Death
  3. Take The Pain
  4. God Awaits
Steven Rester--Vocals
Ryan Carver--All Guitars
Jacob Hannah--Drums

"Never give up, Never surrender!"  Those are the words of Tim Allen's character on one of my favorite sci-fi comedies, Galaxy Quest!  It springs to mind because that had to be the philosophy of The Grave Denial, a new modern metal band based out of Nashville...and in Tennessee and Arizona!  Following a relocation of one of the members, as well as a decision to change the band's name, which could cause confusion among the band's followers, it would be easy to throw in the towel for a lot of bands.  But, thanks to the digital world, putting a band together, and keeping it together despite large geographical separation is not the problem that it once was.  So, for The Grave Denial, the separation of members led to a perseverance and focus on the end goal, which was the creation of this new 4-track EP.

Formerly known as EverCross, The Grave Denial plays a heavy brand of modern hard rock/metal which they deem "metal with a message"!  Bands such as Demon Hunter, Fight The Fury, and As We Ascend would be fair comparisons to the sound of The Grave Denial, while the band also claims Metallica, Iron Maiden, Trivium, and Parkway Drive as personal influences.  In my opinion, the closest the guys come to sounding like any of these bands is As We Ascend, and that is with good reason, as Jake Jones, vocalist and guitarist for that band, produced this EP.  That is not to say that the band comes off as AwA clones, because they do not, with Rester generally employing a far gruffer vocal style than Jones, and the heft of three of the four tracks falls more in line with Demon Hunter or Fight The Fury than anything As We Ascend has done thus far.

The EP opens with the lead single, and my personal favorite track, the most "radio-friendly" song here, in "Fake".  Currently climbing the Christian Rock charts and receiving strong airplay from Christian rock stations, "Fake" deserves to be heard by a much larger, less exclusive audience, as it ranks right up there with just about anything Octane is currently playing on SiriusXM satellite radio.  Some programmed elements open the track before Rester's vocals jump in along with the rest of the band.  For the majority of the track, Rester sings in a clean style, which is very reminiscent of the approach used by Jones on As We Ascend's debut effort. A song about putting on a false front in order to deceive others, this crunchy number has a crushingly heavy chorus section, starting with Rester's building roar of "You'"!  The rest of the chorus is equally biting with its condemnation of the song's subject matter, as Rester more smoothly sings about, "All the faces you create/ All the lies make your escape, /Honey dripping from your lips/ Burning bridges, sinking ships...".  The guitars are hard-edged and aggressive, and the drum patterns fall outside the typical, varying from ther cadence and approach that is so common on most hard radio rock these days.

From here, things only get heavier.  "Breath of Death" has some classic guitar elements to it, with big power chords at the beginning, but things change rapidly when Rester comes roaring in on the verse sections in a decidedly more modern vocal approach.  Then, during the pre-chorus and chorus portions, Rester's lower-range vocals have an almost Gothic feel to the way they are sung over Hannah's double bass rhythms.  There is a tempo change coming out of the second chorus, with some straight-forward metal rhythm guitar riffing and a nice metal solo from Carver, before some effects-enhanced drums lead Rester back into the fray for one more run through the pre-chorus section, and a power chord fades the song out.  A pretty cool combination of styles and approaches all mixed together in one song, showcasing the band's diversity and influences.

"Take The Pain", with its chug-chug-chugga-chug rhythm guitars and punchy drums is extremely catchy, especially with the chant along chorus and a really cool guitar solo from Carver.  There are some production effects added to certain parts of Rester's vocals, but they only serve to enhance what he is already doing with his harsh screams.  Don't think something ridiculous like AutoTune here, rather think of how a computer might digitize and fade out the end of a scream.  When done with minimal repetition, it is a cool effect, and The Grave Denial nails its application perfectly here.

"God Awaits" closes things out, and once again, a cool, catchy chorus is a huge part of the draw of this song.  Sang rather than shouted or screamed, the chorus really stands out from the rest of the song, which is a choice combination of guitar riffs, barked vocals from Rester, and rapid fire drum fills and syncopated rhythms leading into and out of the chorus from Hannah.  There's also a cool vocal bridge before each chorus, with Rester screaming out "Fear", "Death", "Hope" and "Pray" while a lower, more spoken return follows each word.  Pretty cool stuff.  Carver lays out a fairly extended, melodic solo before the layered vocals of the chorus take their final few runs through the song.  A great way to close out an all-too-short EP from a band I am definitely going to keep an eye and ear on! 

As one would expect with Jones as the engineer and producer, the sound here is top notch and professional despite no label backing.  The guitars are crisp, the vocals sharp, and the drums have a full, hard-hitting sound, with nice separation throughout the EP.  Getting Jones on board was quite the coup for the band, and I have been told they hope to have him work with the band on their full-length album when it is ready to go.

As great as the music is, what impresses me equally is the mission of the men involved in The Grave Denial.  Fully willing to back up their Christian stance, the guys have all declared themselves to "be there" for their listeners whenever necessary, and have gone so far as to set up an on-line chat on their website, and even published their own personal phone numbers for people to be able to reach them if they need someone to talk to.  Now THAT is dedication and putting your money where your mouth is!  If you feel you need to talk to them, or if you want to tell them how much you love their music or their ministry, you can find more information at .

Hopefully, we will see actual CD copies available at some point, but for now, you can get your digital EP at CD Baby.

Rating:  An excellent, crankable debut!  Blast this one at 8!

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