Krigsgrav’s infernally smoking doom simmers in pain, suffering on devastating ‘The Sundering’

There is a price to be paid in this life for just about anything we do, and I mean that emotionally. Somehow, metal got this weird macho tag, and that’s likely due to insecure assholes, but it’s OK to be completely broken apart and vulnerable. Building back up actually makes you tougher, and there is a fuck ton of great metal out there to act as a sort of guide and spiritual partner.

I won’t lie: The past few months have been really destructive for me mentally, so when a record can come along and not just identify with my pain but also give me some tools to get work through that mess, it’s always welcome. Texas-based death/doom pounders Krigsgrav came along at an opportune time for me, as did their great sixth record “The Sundering.” This thing is heavy both musically and emotionally. It comes off as a collection of songs from people who have seen some shit, and that’s weirdly comforting because who among us hasn’t? This band—vocalist/rhythm guitarist Justin Coleman, guitarist Cody Daniels, drummer/bassist/clean vocalist David Sikora—just nails this and leaves you both cleaned out emotionally but also sufficiently devastated.

“Aeolus Speaks” gets things started as storming hangs over, ominous thunder rumbles, and that leads into “The Sun No Longer Reaches Here” that erupts with huge riffs and gurgling growls. The track gets savage as the pace picks up, and a doomy slurring hits over the chorus, mixing your brains. Strong soloing cuts through, a power metal flutter strikes, and everything rushes into the waves. “Timberline” arrives in a guitar surge as growls scar, and a strong force agitates the fires. Fiery melodies bubble up, and the rage melts into liquidy guitars, feeling fluid and dark. The leads take off and lightens the skies, blood surges, and group vocals pound with power. “Dread the Night” explodes with melody as the vocals power, and the pace chugs. The playing continues to heat up, bringing classic magic, the growls menace, and everything rolls in a pile of broken glass. “Absence” has a rustic intro with acoustics washing before the band starts to rip hard. The playing stampedes as Coleman’s growls get into your guts, and it feels like a gust takes you away, reminding of Maiden at times. Things crash to a halt as gentler waters trickle, the guitars then awaken, and the track explodes, firing into the air.

“Spirit Walker” basks in elegant doom as the track gets started, the growls corrode, and the playing opens even more, swallowing you whole. The leads feel like they soar through the air, moving through skullduggery and vicious blows, and then the humidity thickens, taking away your fresh air. The leads spiral, the growls crash down, and moody guitars take this thing to the finish line. “To Live and Die Without Hope” opens into foul punishment as the vocals suffocate, and the drumming crashes through walls. Eventually, some haziness sets in, and even some jazzy playing makes your limbs tingle before the violence crushes anew, and the track blisters away and out into hell. “The Winter Hours” leaks in like a spirit, giving off as vibe awash in elegance. The growls scrape as the track toughens, but then a cooler section sets in, teasing serenity before the fires blast all over, and the track ends in a pile of ash. “Darkest Road” is your closer, and it smashes its way in with guitars glistening and an emotional toll being paid. The track trades off from raucous to smooth, even visiting some gothy clouds before unloading again. The track rolls in shadows, the bruising becomes more pronounced, and everything fades into darkness.

This is a record that took me a few times to fully grasp, though I enjoyed every trip I had with Krigsgrav’s “The Sundering.” By that I mean the sweet spots are earned, so each time I went back, I discovered new things, and the power and passion here begin to shape themselves. This is a fantastic record, one that makes time for just about every human emotion, leaving you with a toll generously paid.

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