Hating Life

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Strange as it may seem, Swedish death metal band Grave had been reduced to a mere duo of guitarist (now also vocalist) Ola Lindgren and drummer Jensa Paulsson by the recording its fourth studio album, 1996's possibly self-explanatory Hating Life, having lost former leader, vocalist, and bassist Jörgen Sandström to compatriot rivals Entombed, of all the horror. And although it feels rather unfair to pile additional vituperation on top the stalwart duo, given that Grave had already lost their way on 1994's Soulless (their last outing with Sandström), there's also no forgiving this latest display of outright mediocrity. Once again, what used to be one of Grave's sonic hallmarks -- that meaty death metal production courtesy of Sunlight Studios -- was absent from the proceedings, and instead, Hating Life's comparatively thin and hollow sounding replacement automatically accounted for half of the loss of power in these new songs (the best of which are "Worth the Wait," "Restrained," and "Sorrowfilled Moon," all sounding like a poor man's Entombed). Tack on the band's insistence upon exploring slower tempos tied to lackluster grooves and Lindgren's altogether weaker vocal signature (not to mention uninventive, forgettable guitar riffs), and the seeds were sown for a dispiritedly lackluster effort on all fronts -- no wonder most all of Grave's remaining fans gave up on them in disgust. And, having taken their best shot and struck out so embarrassingly, Grave's remaining twosome effectively broke up after Hating Life's release. Until changing their minds six years later, anyway.

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