A South American band that exudes heavy metal through every pore of their being. Senor Obvious, colour me bewildered! Metal Grave are a Chilean quartet that, going by the cover art, the album title, and their country of birth, could be excused for planting their flag square in the middle of fields of raw death/thrash, something in the style of their hallowed countrymen Pentagram. But Metal Grave play heavy metal of the purest strain, hugely influenced by NWOBHM luminaries like Iron Maiden, Brocas Helm, Mercyful Fate, along with US power metal stylings of bands like Omen, and early Metallica. It is a heady mix, one that gets my pulse going 15 of the 16 hours I spend awake every day, at least 5 out of 7 days a week, most year ’round.
The only valid criticisms I can level at the band are a generally limited song dynamic, and an underwhelming vocalist. Oh, both aspects are fine in their charmingly retrogressive ways, these songs will make for fun listening with buddies. They are played with enormous amounts of zeal and conviction, somewhat ephemeral qualities but ones that make their presence felt on some transcendent plateau that lies outside the scope of the written word. But the songs are severely handicapped, at least at this stage in the band’s evolution, displaying a one-dimensional tempo that doesn’t budge until the very last song ‘The Seventh Circle’, an out-and-out doom workout, competent in its own right but not really in step with what has gone before.
Bastian Velasquez’s vocals vary between clean, gruff, and a King Diamond impersonation that slips in every now and then. You know how they say Paul Di Anno’s voice was the leash that kept Iron Maiden from truly realizing their potential, and how the advent of Dickinson chomped up that leash and gave free rein for the songs to soar? A crock of shit really, Di Anno was a fabulous vocalist, but the association holds for Metal Grave. Not a bad vocalist by any means, but somewhat restricted technically, never really injecting the kind of emotion that could take these songs to the next level. A more adventurous, virtuoso style of singing would certainly help.
Metal Grave is still very much a work in progress. The Eternal Flame Of Deception is tightly played, the band obviously well-schooled in real heavy metal from the era of dinosaurs. Hopefully the songwriting will continue developing with time. This one is for the hopeless cases that stay up digging obscure one-demo wonders from thirty years ago.