During April of last year I (Trevor) reviewed the 7" split release from Grá and Gnosis of the Witch, suitably impressed I gave it 9.5/10 which saw it feature very highly in my Top 25 EP list for 2015. Thankfully this was not the only music 2015 would bring us from Grá and right at the end of the year they brought us their magnificent album "Ending."
Fan of Grá and friend of The Lair of Filth, Nate, now brings us his review of Ending - thanks Nate!
Grá - Ending (2015)
Review by Nate.
October 15th 2010.
A journey into the underworld and all of its splendor was started. A path of bleak, grey darkness to invoke the withered ferryman who guides the souls of the dead across the rivers Styx and Acheron. These two men, who called themselves Dimman and Heljarmaðr stood at the shores with coins in mouth...
December 24th 2015.
That journey has now come to an end, the two men who stood upon those barren shores have paid their fare and crossed the rivers. The triune of Charon is completed. The aptly named “Ending” has given us the final chapter of a five year drift upon dead, lifeless rivers.
Anyone who has followed Grá over the past five years knows what they bring with each offering - a true-to-form composition of Scandinavian black metal with no compromise of it's sound and atmosphere. As the record begins, the opening of “Väntan” sets the mood for the next fifty minutes. Slow, brooding, melodic and haunting in its grandiose, yet simplistic approach. More often than not, the first song of an album will give you a large indication of what to expect from a record, and this is certainly the case here. You have stepped off the boat and gaze from the borders of a vast and endless ocean.
“Ending” is classic Grá - ominous and foreboding. The perfect word to describe their music, and will be used quite often in this review, is bleak. Drifting through passages of atmospheric black metal with an effortless ease and encased within a shroud that can only be assessed by the initiated. There is no filler within this record. Each song showcases a perfect execution of detail and a passion to create an album that NEEDS to feel as if something is coming to its demise. The album title itself sets up a great expectation to give the listener the notion that this is the last, the last of an era and the last of its story.
As the record unfolds, Grá crafts soundscapes that hold true to the foundation of what constitutes as a story being read in it's final chapter. The mood is almost depressing, with not one notion of an uplifting vibration. Heljarmaðr brings forth his howls of anguish and torment in a way that does not feel at the forefront. The music is the main ingredient here, and while his voice echoes in and out, he lays as an instrument instead of a prominent vocalist. There is, you could almost say, a heavy sadness within this record.
There is one aspect of Grá I feel I need to touch base on. Those who are familiar with Grá, know of the “Helfärd” series. The word “Helfärd” can be roughly translated to “Hell trip” but I think it does not do enough justice to the true meaning. “Helfärd” when it comes to Grá means a journey into the underworld, a descent into darkness. The final song within the trilogy is a true masterpiece and a golden highlight within the record. That overwhelming sadness takes complete presence here.
What captures me with this album is that it is not aggressive in it's delivery. The mood is mid-paced and droning. There are moments of savageness but only as an accent. The focal point of “Ending” is not to drive a stake into the heart for a quick death, but to slip the noose around oneself and slowly fade away into darkness with Charon's fee in mouth...
2. Þar til eldurinn mig gleypir
3. He Who Comes
4. Där skuggor dröjer kvar
6. Helfärd pt. III (Den gamle)
7. I döden
Ending by Grá is currently available on CD from Unexploded Records as well as a number of other stockists, details of which can be found on Grá's Facebook page.