Graves at Sea
Documents of Grief

Arizona’s Graves at Sea have been suffocating fans with their charred funeral doom for several years now, though their 2003 self-released debut EP, the four-song Documents of Grief, sold out immediately and has been the stuff of legend ever since. Lovers of all things doom (and Pentagram, naturally!), Bay Area label 20 Buck Spin re-releases it to spread the dark word about one of America’s finest doom acts.

“Red Monarch” is a fuzzy paean to depression, with guitarist Nick Phit and bassist Roger Williams tapping into the primeval sludge of the ages. Phit’s soloing gives latitude for making Black Sabbath or even Pentagram references, though his interplay with Williams is a mind-meld lockstep that’s delivered with dry sincerity. “Black Bile” recalls old Grief, as Nathan Misterek’s tortured vocals and zombie noises conjure a swirling chaos in slo-mo when the guitars seem to decelerate just enough to let him jump on for another verse. Though the ransacked melodies of “Wormwood” are wont to align themselves with classic Sleep, the tune’s moldering nuance of an absinthe-fueled afterlife lingers on every measure of music. Like a stripped-down Cathedral cut (circa Forest of Equilibrium), “Praise the Witch” resembles follow similar paths in slowing down halfway through to let the chordal immensity loiter a bit longer.

Wresting doom’s elemental reverberations fluently from their instruments, the band continues to realize their own distinction with their Southern Lord single, their split with NoCal’s Asunder, and their forthcoming album, due to drop later this year. Unlike other bands who finally find their signature sound after several albums of experimental welter, Graves at Sea seem to have nailed their karma with this fabulous first release.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Ayers
June 22nd, 2007

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