Written by Kep
Grand Cadaver – Into the Maw of Death
Death metal from Sweden
Releasing October 29 via Majestic Mountain Records
Let’s be real with ourselves here for a minute. I like riffs. I like them a lot. You like riffs, too. This isn’t a particularly complicated concept: Grand Cadaver has riffs—like, a lot of really, really good ones—so I like the new Grand Cadaver album a whole hell of a lot. You will, too.
What, you want more than that? Okay fine, let’s dive in. Grand Cadaver is a new band on the scene, having put out their first singles in late 2020 and their debut EP Madness Comes earlier this year, but they’re actually about as veteran as it gets. The lineup is full of names that have been immersed in the Swedish metal scene for decades: Mikael Stanne of Dark Tranquility on vocals, Daniel Liljekvist of Katatonia and Disrupted fame on drums, guitarists Stefan Lagergren (of a number of projects including Tiamat) and Alex Stjernfeldt (of Let Them Hang and solo project Novarupta), and Pagandom’s Christian Jansson on bass. Make no mistake, this is a five-piece that draws on a wealth of experience to crank out high quality shit.
So here’s the lowdown: Into the Maw of Death delivers on its pedigree and is a damn powerhouse of HM-2 death metal delightfulness. It’s ten tracks and 37 minutes of fat riffs and muscular Swedish pummeling that you will absolutely enjoy if you like quality metal. Grand Cadaver brings an expert hand to an exceptionally varied tracklist, from exceptionally written Swedeath a la early Entombed or Dismember (“Disanimated “, “Soul Infestation”, “Malevolent Fate“), to slow menacing crushers (“Grim Eternal”, “Cold Dead Light Leads “), to thrash-influenced rippers (“Empire of Lies“). There are a couple of songs that fall a little flat in comparison to rest—most notably “World Mausoleum”, with its simplistic aesthetic and cheesy lyrics and a mercifully brief 2½-minute length—but every time it feels like the album has lost a step, you can expect to be steamrolled by another meaty wall of bludgeoning riffage that picks things right back up again.
The production on Into the Maw of Death is utterly fantastic, and is a substantial part of what makes the album so fun to listen to. It’s a masterclass of recording, mixing, and mastering a modern death metal record with an ear for the old school: the brawny tone of the buzzsaw guitars bites with toothy edges that rip and tear, the bass rumbles and thunders massively beneath with booming, girthy drums, and Stanne growls and roars clearly above it all. The band knows how to play with their textures, too. In “Grim Eternal” there’s a notable passage without guitar, where Jansson’s bass and Liljekvist’s spare drums accompany deliberate, hostile snarls from Stanne. The title track opens with a grand and eerie walking bass riff, completely solo, before it continues marching the song forward under towering chords from the guitars. When the verse riff dashes forward with thrash drums it’s as though the angular guitars hang suspended above a tumultuous river of white water even as they contribute part of that churning texture.
Truly, there’s not much to complain about here. It’s perfectly okay to just sit back and be impressed by Grand Cadaver’s mastery of the craft of death metal riffs and songwriting. Everybody who likes the style will find something to love on Into the Maw of Death. Tracks like “Disanimated” and “Reign Through Fire” will break down your door and punch you right in the face with instant fury. “Soul Infestation” explodes like a ball of flames before eventually settling into a vicious groove highlighted by Liljekvist’s work on the bell of one of his cymbals. Songs like “Manifest Insanity” are sure to become hidden gems, sitting on the back half of the album but containing some of the catchiest moments, including a funky little death ‘n’ roll riff that begs you to headbang. It’s one of those LPs that flies by so quick you’ll probably hit repeat before release day is over.
Now, to be objective, this isn’t a groundbreaking record. You’re not going to find anything new here, because that’s not Grand Cadaver’s game. Is Into the Maw of Death a stellar example of the modern approach to Swedish OSDM? Without a doubt. But if you’re looking for an album that innovates and does things you’ve never heard before, this is not it. It’s a damn enjoyable listen, but trailblazing it is most certainly not.
That’s okay though, if you ask me. There’s a place in the modern scene for excellent death metal made by excellent musicians. This is the kind of album that will hit the spot when it comes to punchy riffs and quality songwriting, and I’d guess that that’s exactly what Grand Cadaver set out to accomplish. It’s worth a listen or several.
Favorite track: Soul Infestation