Emanating from Baltimore, Grave Domain is a band formed by Shel Plock, who has played a hand and dabbled in everything from punk to jazz during his time as a musician, and now presents the grotesque horrors of Grave Domain to the world with their self-titled debut album.
What were initially demos, doomed to rot within the confines of Plock’s hard drives, found new life and purpose by being fleshed out and mastered. With a run time of 39 minutes, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the album would have more than seven songs, however, it’s far from a whirlwind of a listening experience.
It doesn’t seem to feel unfair to say that none of the songs on the album feels like they particularly warrant such lengths, though, and while there are definitely some heights, none of them feels especially dizzying.
One of perhaps the album’s weak points comes from Plock’s vocals, more specifically, the effects used on his vocals. While there’s no doubt that the messy and rough vocal effects were very much an intentional choice on Plock’s behalf, their effectiveness wanes throughout the album.
For example, songs such as ‘Across the Acheron’ benefit greatly from the devilish vocals, especially when paired with the track’s brash guitars. Meanwhile, the opener ‘Estes Method’, and the cover of Demon‘s ‘Have We Been Here Before’ both suffer from the effects, leaving Plock’s vocal to fight amongst the melee of instruments, and often losing.
That being said, that’s not to say that the album doesn’t have some good moments. One of the highlights of the album is the title track ‘Grave Domain’, it’s eerie and sonically haunting, and certainly serves as the focal point of the album, blending all of the sensibilities of punk from yesteryear along with plenty of gusto. Album closer ‘Deth Bed’ is also one of the album’s stronger tracks too, with an alluring bass riff introduction, and its ever-racing drums, it helps to leave the album on a much-needed high note.
Despite my somewhat blunt criticisms, part of me still really wants to like this eccentric album and all of its curiosities, perhaps it will age better than this review will… Who knows?
If you have an extraordinary yearning to sink your metaphorical fangs into something paranormal, then Grave Domain’s debut is worth a listen, just don’t expect anything too boundary-breaking.