Earthen Grave – Dismal Times (Demo EP)

30 Reviews in 30 days: #13

For review #13, I chose something metal, gloomy and doomy.

Earthen Grave – Dismal Times

Earthen Grave - Dismal Times

Self published demo EP, 2009.

Earthen Grave formed in 2008 and released their demo EP reviewed below in 2009. It includes three original tracks and two covers of their influences. I hope to be able to see them live someday, but that may be hard since I’ve been trapped on the southern plains since 2005. I have met half of the band at various points in the Chicago metal scene when I lived there for eight glorious years. Those three are Scott Davidson (drums), Ron Holzner (Bass, vocals), and Rachel Barton Pine (violin) – yes, the classical violin virtuoso. The other three, I may have run into, passed in the mosh pits in the night. They are Mark Weiner (vocals), Tony Spillman (guitar), and Jason Muxlow (guitar). They are a Chicago doom metal supergroup, if you will.
1. Dismal Times – The sextet play doom that is accessible, with clean vocals, and Pine’s violin lends a symphonic aspect to the feel. I’m not a huge fan of this subgenre of metal and have little of it in my collection, but this I like and not just for the line up. As those who knew me when I originally started Nao Me Diga Zine reviews, if I knew you personally, I was more likely to rip you to shreds – like a coach – because I knew you could do better, but I digress.

2. Life Carries On – While doom, this sometimes feels like progressive metal in places with the riffage and vocal delivery.

3. Burning a Sinner (Witchfinder General cover) – I am not familiar with the original, Witchfinder General performance of this song, so I am unable to make comparisons as to Earthen Grave’s interpretation. But when a band is starting out, they tend to do covers to help get them gigs in some markets. Covers also pay tribute to those who have influenced them. The sounds is a less polished Iron Maiden type of metal. The violin tracking is well done and adds to the song’s feel, complementing the lyrical content.

4. Death on the High Seas – Appropriately, a sample of flowing water introduces this track. This is the longest track on the demo, clocking in at just over 10 minutes in length. In the chorus is where Wiener’s vocal chops are lacking. Pine showcases her skills at about four and half minutes into. Davidson, despite his age, can still manage the double kick intensity at the halfway mark. Holzner’s bass picking is no slouch either, proving that true metal is not just for the young.
5. Relentless (Pentagram cover) – Like the third track, I am not familiar (enough I’ll say, since I may have actually heard this song before in its original form) with Pentagram’s version to make a good comparison. Pine adds her interpretation within the song, punching it up in just the right places. It’s thrash at it’s core, but some may call it death, and there are elements of the doom, especially in the guitar riffs in the bridge with the drop D tuning. It’s a good song to close the short demo with.

Pine is classically trained, but she has always played her versions of metal songs on her violin when her parents weren’t looking. And once metal gets in your blood, it’s hard to get out as you know it’s deep in your soul, every fiber of your being. That’s Pine, and her fellow bandmates. I first encountered Pine backstage at OzzFest in 1996 at Tinley Park where she was performing privately for members of Pantera. I was in awe. Ron Holzner I met one night at the dive once known as the Fireside Bowl. Scott Davidson used to promote shows at the Riviera, local metal nights. Together with Weiner, Muxlow, and Spillman, they have created a powerful sound. The weakness in spots when the sound lends itself to more harmonizing and soaring is Weiner’s range. The production of the demo is professionally done with full liner notes and high quality recording. I would not expect anything less out of the experience persons involved. But it is Weiner’s voice, a personal opinion, especially on “Death on the High Seas” that docks this EP a pint.

Rating: 4 out of 5 PBR Pints

Listening Notes: I mail-ordered the EP direct from the band. I had not listened to it in a while, but it’s worthy of my collection, and shall continue to get spins down the road. After checking out their website for a link to the album cover for this review, I see that I need to seek out their newer stuff. I’m glad to see that they are keeping this band going, as I feared that it was a one off project. This listening was through those Emerson earbuds bought for $5 from Big Lots and the Samsung laptop using Windows Media player.


About Kirsten Tautfest

Writer. I've done a lot of living in almost 40 years. My first two self-published books in print/Kindle are what I have termed serial soccer fiction. Red Tales is based around a professional soccer team, set in 1998 their inaugural year, and traces the lives of the players, staff, and fans and how they all intertwine and collide for better or for worse.
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