Review: “Self Titled” by War Grave

Not to be confused with the now defunct Richmond Virginia Death Thrash operatives who feature T.J. Childers of Inter Arma fame and released an unholy trinity of EPs between 2006 and 2012, War Grave are a Traditional Heavy Metal quintet from London who feature in their ranks Roman Kantoch (ex-More). Having arrived on the scene in 2023 with a pair of singles in “System” and “Discovering My Truth“, they wear their collective hearts on their sleeves, drawing influence from Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Whitesnake as they look to build melodic hooks with Thrash riffs and big choruses. Produced by Charlie Wilson Jnr. (Torchbearer, Graven Image) at London’s Monolith Studios, they’ve chosen to self title their debut EP…

Inception level madness in “War Graves” by War Grave on War Grave openings up this five track affair with Rock ‘n Roll racing style Speed Thrash riffs, thundering percussion and soaring higher pitched vocals from Kantoch. A fretboard smouldering extended solo gloriously threatens never to end before the band pull out a powerhouse breakdown that leads into a huge sing-a-long moment, something that leaves jaws on the floor as the solo comes back. Who said you can’t do a seven minute plus magnum opus as an opening track and nail it? This is irresistible, the metaphorical equivalent of an ice cold beer on a scorching hot summers day. The storytelling is impeccable and that continues into the blistering “Enchained” as War Grave make Traditional Metal more accessible to a wider audience with their heavier, Thrash leaning riffs. That’s not to say they’re a gateway band by any means but anyone who heard their tunes playing on the Jukebox in a Metal Pub, sandwiched in between something from “Black” era Metallica and something by Raven Age would have no complaints. War Grave slot in perfectly, as if they have been here for the past 40 odd years, their music having that timeless quality to it without sounding old or tired.

When it comes to finding a guest to give a track a little spice, there is absolutely no doubt that Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens is the perfect fit for both War Grave and “Witch“. The contrast between his voice and that of Kantoch works incredibly well as their pair tell a tale of being entranced in the spell of a nightmare Queen, selling their souls in the process. Heavy staccato riff breaks and pounding drums are overlayed by a classic face melting solo that astounds, producer Charlie Wilson Jnr. deserving a lot of credit for absolutely nailing the mix as the guitars reach Trivium heights. A tale of classic proportions “Revenge Is Near” is one that resonates, sending a chill down the spine when Kantoch hits some lower notes vocally. The galloping drums and sing-a-long lyrical narrative reaches in and grabs you by the soul, only letting go for another absolute ripper of a solo. You can only sit back and admire the band for this sonic creation, their beefed up approach finding the perfect balance between sub-genres that makes them all the more appealing. Be honest; who doesn’t love a pick slide? The one at the start of “Price To Pay” is sheer class, testament to the wonderful musicianship on display during a fun record that reminds you just how good this Metal life can be. A couple of Power Metal style vocal moments give the cut another dimension before the whammy bar gets some abuse, a cackle from Kantoch into an adrenaline pumping final third a moment that will crack a smile on the face of even the hardest of Metal heads. War Graves don’t simply fly their flag, they bury it as they claim Planet Metal as their own [8.5/10]

Track Listing

  1. War Graves
  2. Enchained
  3. Witch (ft. Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens (KK’s Priest, ex-Judas Priest, ex-Iced Earth)
  4. Revenge Is Near
  5. Price To Pay

Self Titled” by War Grave is out 26th April 2024 and is available over at bandcamp.

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